Chelsea Under Graham Potter: A Tactical Preview

Chelsea Under Graham Potter: A Tactical Preview

  • Tactics
  • September 14, 2022
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The first massive appointment of the Boehly era arrived after Champions League winner Thomas Tuchel was sacked, and a young, exciting English manager in Graham Potter was appointed by the Blues. Right after Tuchel’s sacking, Chelsea didn’t waste much time and signed Potter from Brighton almost immediately.

A manager who is touted as the next star in football management and who has worked wonders at Östersunds FK, Swansea, and Brighton, Potter comes to Stamford Bridge with a positive CV.

Very few actually know this, but prior to Östersunds FK, he was coaching a university team in England. So, Potter is someone who has truly earned his stripes and has come up the hard way.

Also read: Manager Of The Week – Premier League Gameweek 6: Erik Ten Hag

A Brief Look At Graham Potter’s Brighton Side

Before previewing his Chelsea side, let’s have a short look at what his Brighton team was all about and how they played.

Brighton under Potter were one of, if not the best, team to watch in the Premier League. He took over from Chris Hughton, under whom Brighton were a low-block, counter-attacking side, and right away, the change was visible under Potter. In his first game in charge in the Premier League, he defeated Watford 3-0 in an exceptional performance by his side.

The players who kept hitting the ball long under Hughton were now confidently playing out from the back and enjoying themselves playing without fear. Brighton’s recruitment during his time has been immaculate, and interestingly, Potter’s whole coaching team is moving to Chelsea with him.

Here we have a chart that compares Brighton with every opponent they faced in the Premier League.

Comparing Graham Potter’s Brighton side’s key statistics to their opponents.

The chart compares Brighton to all the games they played against Premier League opponents last season i.e. 2021/22 and it displays how progressive and exceptional Brighton were under Graham Potter.

They had a better cumulative xG of 46 compared to the xG of 45.4 that the teams against them had in the Premier League, which shows the quality of chances they were creating. However, they always lacked a clinical goalscorer, which is why they were lower than their opponents in goals and assists and conversion rates of the chances created.

However, higher pass completion of 16341 passes compared to 13158 by their opponents, show how good they were on the ball and highlight Potter’s possession based style.

Further, they had more possession in almost every game as they outplayed a number of teams consistently with 80.5% pass percentage compared to their opponents’ 77.8%. And the Seagulls also dominated their opponents with an average 54.8% possession compared to 45.2%.

The two significantly impressive stats here are the progressive passes(1211) compared to (1027) by their opponents.

And progressive distance covered(96950) compared to (85737) by opponents which highlights how much more Brighton players ran on the pitch in-game. This clearly shows the work rate from Potter’s teams are significantly more than their opponents; they run them out of the park.

Furthermore, the progressive passes show that Potter’s philosophy wasn’t just about keeping the ball and keeping it meaninglessly but being positive and industrious, and brave and creative with it. The chart also shows how much more his players deliver in terms of work-rate as compared to their opponents.

The distance covered and tackles (721) to opponents’ (669) tell us that Potter was putting equal emphasis on defending as much as he was coaching them to be creative in possession.

How Could Chelsea Set Up Under Graham Potter?

Graham Potter is the exact opposite of a rigid manager with stubbornness in his approach. Potter is flexible, innovative, and excellent at adapting according to his opponent. Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa are two examples who hardly ever adapt against specific opponents, and at times, it proves costly. Potter is not one of them.

He coaches his player to play in multiple positions in a single game. A great example is Pascal Groß, an attacking midfielder, but Graham Potter, the Englishman turned him into a complete midfielder. Under Potter, Groß also played as a wing-back at times and always got the job done.

Potter can do a similar thing with several players at Chelsea who have great potential, but their best roles on the pitch are yet to be discovered. Havertz and Ziyech are two players who possess exceptional potential but have struggled to deliver consistently since signing for Chelsea.

Mason Mount and Connor Gallagher are also young, dynamic players. They also possess a great attitude, a significant requirement under Potter, who doesn’t like players with a weak attitude in training and overall. This is where it will be interesting to see his relationship with Aubameyang, who has a history of constant indiscipline.

However, Aubameyang is the kind of striker who suits the way Potter would want to play. Aubameyang is similar to Welbeck, and they do have certain similarities in their movements.

Graham Potter doesn’t necessarily want his striker to drop deep in possession, rather wants the striker to make certain movements to take defenders out of their shape. At the same time, Potter requires a tireless work rate from his front players, which Aubameyang is not great at. However, the Gabonese striker successfully delivered under Klopp while at Dortmund, which shows that he can be effective if used correctly.

Here is how Chelsea can set up under Graham Potter, but he is a manager who keeps shifting from a back three to a back four depending on the situation.

Predicted Chelsea Lineup Under Graham Potter.


This is where Chilwell & Cucurella come into the picture, as they could be utilized as left center-backs. This way, Chelsea can shift to a back-four whenever required.

Hakim Ziyech is a player who, if he plays well, could be one of the most creative players in this Chelsea team because he possesses great ability. Using Ziyech and Mount or Havertz and Sterling as inside wingers is a strategy that could be explosive if executed well.

Ziyech & Mount’s creativity combined with Aubameyang’s runs along with Sterling, and Havertz is an attack with loads of quality and versatility.

It’s without a doubt that Graham Potter took this job looking forward to the challenge; when you look at the embarrassment of riches this Chelsea side has, it’s certain that the right manager like Potter can get the best out of them.

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