Graham Potter’s era at Chelsea has begun with a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to RB Salzburg with the Blues’ Champions League hopes already under threat. Raheem Sterling got things going for Chelsea in the second half, but a mistake from Thiago Silva saw Salzburg equalise and the hosts were unable to find a winner late on. Express Sport takes a look at five things learned from the draw at Stamford Bridge.
Open defensive unit
All eyes were mainly going to be on how Potter’s defensive unit would work and he certainly made some big changes. Ben Chilwell, Kalidou Koulibaly and Wesley Fofana were all dropped from the team which lost to Dinamo Zagreb last week with Thiago Silva, Jorginho and Marc Cucurella coming into the side.
Both Cucurella and Aziplicueta played either side of Silva with Reece James and Raheem Sterling playing as attacking wing-backs. Silva was often left alone in the centre of defence with Cucurella and Azpilicueta both playing wide and that was evident for Salzburg’s goal. After the Brazilian missed his challenge, Chelsea were immediately exposed and Azpilicueta was out of position to cover.
Kai Havertz in favoured role
When Chelsea signed Kai Havertz two years ago, the Germany international had established himself as one of the world’s best attacking midfielders. He was clinical and creative at Bayer Leverkusen in that role, but struggled to find his feet at Chelsea.
Under Thomas Tuchel, Havertz regularly played as a false nine and was still not as effective as his stint at Leverkusen. But Potter has shown that he wants to play Havertz in his natural role and he looked far more comfortable playing off the shoulder of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Tuchel love still there
Potter may be the start of a new era and he got a warm welcome from the Chelsea crowd. But he may have smiled through gritted teeth when the biggest cheer in the first half came when home supporters paid tribute to their former boss.
Some Chelsea fans are still upset with Todd Boehly for firing Tuchel so early in the season after a huge summer of spending. And he’ll need to go some distance to get to the same level of popularity among the supporters as Tuchel built up.
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