Chelsea manager Graham Potter did not enjoy his return to Brighton as the Blues fell to a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of his former players. The loss exposed four major problems within his current side which the 47-year-old will need to correct if he wants to compete for the Champions League places come the end of the season.
Here, Express Sport looks at what went wrong and the issues Potter faces as he looks to mould his new team in his image.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has shown his quality since arriving from Barcelona, scoring three goals in ten games. However, at 33 years old he is unable to play every match given the Blues’ busy schedule and they are a worse team in his absence.
Kai Havertz led the line against Brighton and frequently struggled despite scoring the equalising goal, while Armando Broja appears to be unfavoured by Potter. The Englishman must find a way to play without the Gabon captain if he wants to keep his side competitive on all fronts.
Wing-back is another area where Chelsea have serious issues with Potter deciding to go with wingers Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic in position at the Amex. It is fair to say that it did not work, with the pair leaving the back three massively exposed, contributing to the thrashing.
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It is not a problem that will be easily solved in the near future with Reece James ruled out until the World Cup. The Blues boss may be best placed reverting to a back four in the meantime, with Cesar Azpiliceuta and Ben Chilwell both more than capable of playing as traditional full-backs, which may help protect the central defenders too.
Integrating Marc Cucurella and Raheem Sterling
Interconnected to the wing-back problem is how to utilise new signings Cucurella and Sterling. The Spaniard in particular has failed to find any sort of form at Stamford Bridge, having regularly been utilised as a left-sided centre-half, which has simply not suited him. A switch to a back four is also likely to reduce his game time with Chilwell appearing to be Potter’s favoured option for left-back. A spell on the bench may well do the former Brighton player good.
Sterling’s case is more tricky after he started the season as Chelsea’s most in-form forward. However, he has failed to score in his last eight matches and has been shifted around the team by his manager in that time. Potter must settle on a favoured position for the England international, who is good enough to be considered the best player at the club.
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Finding balance in the front line
Finding a position for Sterling may help Chelsea solve the final of the major issues which has been a lack of balance within the front line. Mason Mount has performed well since Potter’s arrival but struggled against Brighton as he was paired with Conor Gallagher behind Havertz.
The England international has looked best as the sole player in attacking midfield meaning the former Brighton coach may be wise to field Sterling as a striker alongside Aubameyang, which may help the team get the best out of their attacking talents.
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