The Graham Potter era is officially underway at Chelsea. The former Brighton manager, appointed after Thomas Tuchel’s admittedly harsh sacking from Stamford Bridge, arrives at a time where the club are struggling for consistency despite spending almost £250 million in the transfer window. Indeed, Todd Boehly oversaw a significant facelift in west London, and it was evident things weren’t right with Tuchel given how he was sacked at the first sign of a potential capitulation. Regardless, Potter is here now and after a 1-1 draw with RB Salzburg in the Champions League, he’s ready to face the Premier League.
Chelsea have been an ambitious club since Roman Abramovic took over in 2003 and expectations will be high from the start for Potter. While they won’t immediately become favourites amongst Premier League winner betting odds, especially given Manchester City’s dominance over the last few seasons, Boehly has invested heavily in the squad, and Potter has inherited a combination of established Champions League winners and exciting youth players who have bright futures ahead of them.
You wonder how long it will take for Potter to make an impression on the Stamford Bridge faithful, who will obviously feel sympathy for Tuchel given how he won them the Champions League in 2021. However, Potter can still win the crowd over, and with that in mind, we’ve taken a look at the players that will be crucial to the English manager’s success at Chelsea this season.
Starting with a familiar face, Marc Cucurella was sold to the Blues by Potter’s Brighton over the summer, with the Spanish full-back arriving for £62 million. The 24-year-old is versatile on the left side, and his ability to go forward and create chances in the final third has seen him become a starter in the absence of Ben Chilwell. It seemed as if Cucurella was destined for City, but with Chelsea swooping in at the last minute to secure his services, Potter has a defender that can bomb on as well as deputise in a back three should they persist with Tuchel’s old system.
Despite suffering a dip in form over the last few months, N’Golo Kanté should thrive with Potter’s tactics. The Frenchman, hoping to cement his place in Didier Deschamps’s side for the World Cup in Qatar, will benefit from playing in a two-man midfield, and his industrious running and ability to cover space will allow Kai Havertz, another player low on confidence, to hopefully take up more attacking positions.
Kanté is a tireless worker and Potter’s use of Moisés Caicedo and Yves Bissouma have shown how the 31-year-old will be integral to Chelsea’s transitions throughout this season. Now in his seventh season at the club, he’ll want another league title to cement his legacy as a Chelsea legend.
Although Raheem Sterling was Chelsea’s marquee acquisition over the summer, leaving Manchester City after seven years, the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will fill the void that the Blues desperately needed — goals. Sterling’s end product is sporadic and in signing Aubameyang from Barcelona, Potter has a reliable marksman that has demonstrated his ability to score in the Premier League.
The former Arsenal captain fell out with Mikel Arteta and while he’s been shown to have an attitude problem, if Potter can get the best out of him he should outscore both Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner, who proved to be a massive waste of money for the club. Aubameyang is a relatively low-stakes risk at £13 million, with the 33-year-old Potter’s best bet of breaking the duopoly of City and Liverpool until the summer at least.