Graham Potter will have plenty of time to learn more about his Chelsea squad during this month’s international break as he looks to return the Blues to winning ways over the coming weeks. The 47-year-old could only manage a draw against Red Bull Salzburg in his first game as Chelsea manager after he was appointed by new owner Todd Boehly to replace Thomas Tuchel earlier this month.
Chelsea’s next scheduled Premier League match against Liverpool has been postponed due to police shortages ahead of the Queen’s funeral on Monday, which means that Potter will have over two weeks to consider his tactical approach to his new role before the Premier League returns in early October. The former Brighton boss has developed a strong reputation for his possession-based style of football over the years and will now be looking to stamp his authority at Stamford Bridge by implementing his methods as effectively as possible.
The international break will give Potter the opportunity to weigh up a number of possibilities regarding his outlook at Chelsea, who have only managed to score eight Premier League goals so far this season. The Blues have consistently played with three central defenders in recent years but Potter may be inclined to consider trialling a four-at-the-back formation in order to deploy an extra man further up the pitch in an attempt to provide a greater scoring threat.
Brighton also utilised a three-at-the-back setup during Potter’s time in charge, but other systems were used on occasion when he felt the need to switch things up. He is unlikely to be stubborn if it becomes clear that a different approach could work at Chelsea and will have lots of time to examine the possibility of trying a new formation during the upcoming two-week international break.
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Potter could also be tempted to trial the idea of playing two strikers rather than just one, with the likes of Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz having had mixed levels of success in their supporting roles behind the lone frontman as of late. A duo consisting of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Armando Broja could be an option to get Chelsea firing on all cylinders once again, with both players having proven that they can score consistently in the Premier League over the last few seasons.
Although a two-up-top system is unlikely to be effective against the Premier League’s very best sides, it could be a shrewd weapon to test out in those difficult games against the division’s lower-ranked teams that will need to be won by Chelsea more often than not over the course of this season. Switching things up on occasion would allow the Blues to avoid turning into an entirely one-dimensional outfit, while their opponents would struggle to predict their approach to matches if Potter opts to introduce an element of surprise into his team selections.
Another question facing Potter will be whether or not to reinstate Edouard Mendy between the sticks upon his return from a knee injury, with Kepa Arrizabalaga having been selected to start in goal for Chelsea over the last few weeks. Mendy has already been responsible for a couple of high-profile errors this season and has looked a shadow of his former self as of late, while Arrizabalaga impressed when called upon throughout the previous campaign and is seemingly more determined than ever to fight for his place in the side.
Only time will tell if Potter ends up striking gold with his approach to the Chelsea job, which is widely tipped to represent the single biggest test of his managerial career to date. He will undoubtedly be analysing all possible solutions behind closed doors over the next few days as he prepares to lead Chelsea into battle against Crystal Palace, who will be hoping to upset the Blues when they meet in the Premier League after the international break.
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