After a hard-fought draw away at Brentford, Graham Potter concluded a tough first seven games at Chelsea. The Englishman has managed to get an impressive five wins and two draws in those seven games, somewhat dispelling the notion that he might struggle at such a big club.
The shock sacking of previous manager Thomas Tuchel, who won the Champions League, Super Cup and Club World Cup with Chelsea, showed that new owner Todd Boehly may be just as harsh as his predecessor when it comes to managerial changes.
However, so far, Boehly’s choice seems to have been the right one. But what has Graham Potter actually changed at Chelsea?
One of the most consistent aspects of Potter’s career in football management is his playing philosophy - or play style - which can be seen in every side he has managed. Most recently at Brighton, Potter used a range of different systems, these included a 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 but also the use of a back three.
Another facet of his philosophy is rotation, whether this be for tactical reasons or injury, Potter has used it throughout his time in football. This is something of extreme importance when managing a team such as Chelsea, where rotation is necessary for a number of reasons - injury, a large volume of games due to the Champions League and a large squad to keep happy.
The most likely of Potter’s formations to be used at Chelsea may be 3-4-2-1. The Blues have become accustomed to playing a back three under Tuchel, that line-up proving to be the most successful.
Along with this, wing-backs have been used to great success at Chelsea before Potter’s arrival and after it. Ben Chilwell and Reece James are crucial to the Chelsea attack, always going forward as well as defending. Like his time at Brighton, Potter is also encouraging his wide centre-backs to also venture forward, as seen with Cesar Azpilicueta most often.
In his last full season with Brighton, Potter had helped The Seagulls make a full transition to being a possession-based side. Chelsea more often than not out-pass and dominate sides possession-wise in their games, something that Potter can clearly work with.
Potter’s teams, especially Brighton in the 2021/22 season, create a plethora of chances. The only issue Potter found in these cases was that there was a distinct lack of finishing, meaning their expected goals often dwarfed their actual return. However, at Chelsea, there are a number of players with proven finishing ability such as Kai Havertz and Raheem Sterling, but most obviously Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Which Players Have Impressed?
In the seven games under Graham Potter, a number of players have flourished.
Reece James has been a consistent star for Chelsea since he broke through under Frank Lampard a couple seasons back. The right wing-back was looking to be an even bigger influence under Graham, scoring two goals and registering two assists, but an injury picked up against AC Milan may prevent this for a little while.
One of the biggest surprises for stars under Potter is that of Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has completely rediscovered his form. The Spaniard has kept five clean sheets and has only conceded two goals, as well as giving Man of the Match performances against both Aston Villa and Brentford.
Aubameyang and Mason Mount have both found their shooting boots under Potter. After a rocky start to the season for Mount, he has massively improved since Potter came in, registering four assists and two goals in his last six games for Chelsea. In only seven games, Aubameyang has become Chelsea’s second-highest scorer this season, with three goals and an assist, scoring a goal every 137 minutes for The Blues.
Though there is no outright strugglers under Potter, players like Eduoard Mendy and Marc Cucurella have struggled to find game time in their positions, with a resurgent Kepa and an in-form Ben Chilwell keeping Cucurella in a centre-back role rather than his usual left-back role.
The rumour mill has had a field day with Chelsea since the new ownership and appointment of Potter. Big rumours state that Boehly is ready to spend big in order to get Chelsea back to the top.
Some of the big names currently linked to The Blues include Jude Bellingham, Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafael Leao.
Jude Bellingham has taken the Bundesliga by storm and has proven himself in Man of the Match performances for Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. The English international would add an injection of life into the Chelsea midfield and add some attacking flare.
Ronaldo is a proven striker in both the Premier League and Europe and is allegedly unhappy with his situation under Erik ten Hag at Manchester United. Chelsea have struggled with strikers in the past, so maybe Ronaldo could be the player they’ve been missing.
Rafael Leao impressed both Potter and Chelsea fans when he played for AC Milan against Chelsea in the Champions League earlier this month. A dynamic player who could add buckets of talent to the Chelsea forward line.