Stamford Bridge

Graham Potter’s arrival has reinvigorated Chelsea’s European hopes

Since Graham Potter took over at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea have seen their fortunes turn around.

After a difficult start to the season under former boss Thomas Tuchel with unexpected losses to Leeds, Southampton and Dinamo Zagreb, the former Champions League winner was promptly shown the door by new Chairman Todd Boehly.

The decision to sack the German was heavily questioned after such a big spend in the summer building his ideal squad, but there’s no doubting that life under Potter, who moved from Brighton, has seen a significant improvement on the pitch.

The 47-year-old is yet to lose as Chelsea boss having won all but one of his first six games in charge including an impressive Champions League double over Serie A champions AC Milan. The West London outfit have begun to close the gap on the teams out in front, moving back into the top four just four points behind Spurs in third.

Question marks loomed over whether Potter was the right man for the job and whether he could handle the step up; he has silenced those critiques thus far. Chelsea have recovered from early jitters to be at only 4/5 to finish in the top four this season according to the best betting sites.

Their fortunes in front of goal are improving. They have netted 13 goals with nine different scorers in Potter’s first six outings and their new signings have clearly made an impact going forward. It was meant to be Romelu Lukaku banging in the goals for Chelsea but instead it’s former Arsenal man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who looks their biggest threat in attack.

Aubameyang has picked up where he left off in the English top flight, contributing with three goals and an assist in his six games since his return to the capital. With Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz interchanging well behind him and the full-backs offering service, Potter isn’t likely to be concerned at Aubameyang’s limited involvement so long as he puts away chances.

The calm and relaxed style of management is clearly rubbing off on the team as both young and experienced talents are combining well, particularly in the English core that Potter is establishing. Sterling and Mount are benefitting from the free reins to attack and Loftus-Cheek finally looks settled in Chelsea’s midfield.

Meanwhile, James, Chilwell and Gallagher are all making healthy contributions to the team’s performance as this Chelsea side are starting to pick up momentum in the fight for the top four. The slate has been wiped clean after Tuchel’s departure and for now the fresh start is seeing positive results come their way.

At the start of the season the top four chase was hardly a foregone conclusion and Chelsea endured a torrid time grinding out results in the early stages.

When Potter took over they were in sixth and already falling well off the pace in the title race with a tough task lying ahead just to maintain a Champions League spot despite the gargantuan net spend this summer.

A cautious optimism was in the air as pundits and fans alike watched on attentively to see if the Englishman was ready for the big time. While managers of the recent past haven’t fared well in retaining their position once falling short of lofty expectations, life under Potter feels different and like the ushering in of a new era at the Bridge.

No Champions League football after a spend of over £200 million in the summer would be disastrous for the London outfit but it’s worth noting that Potter is settling into a job of this scale for the first time in his managerial career.

The chairman has a clear vision for the club and whilst we are only weeks into his tenure Potter seems to be executing it perfectly. He has already superseded what many expected from him and that will certainly earn him credit in the bank when it comes to the boardroom.

After such a positive start top four has to be the expectation but should they fall short of that mark in the contest for European places it would be unlikely for Potter to abruptly be shown the door come the end of the campaign like so many of his predecessors were.

Featured image credit: Ank kumar licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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