Chelsea’s Champions League match against AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League was a very crucial match. Anything short of a victory for the Blues would have left them at the bottom of the table with a slim chance at qualification.
The match was Potter’s biggest test since his appointment at Chelsea, and it ended up being his most impressive performance so far. It’s so obvious he has learned from Tuchel’s mistakes, playing it safe and taking calculated risks. Let’s take a look at these areas Potter has amended.
1. Tactical approach. This side under Thomas Tuchel would always dominate possession, but the cutting edge has always been missing. They were an embodiment of complacency and weren’t proactive enough in the final third.
This seems to have changed under Potter as he prioritizes getting the ball quickly to the attackers and giving the opposition defense a low chance at recovery. He’s not so crazy about possession, as it counts for nothing if the ball doesn’t end up in the back of the net.
2. Sterling’s indulgence. It was just so clear that Tuchel had too much indulgence for Raheem Sterling during his time at Chelsea. Sterling is a world-class player, and he has done so well in his football career, but you can’t dispute the fact that he dwells so much on the ball and disrupts the flow of play. Making him central to his plan was definitely a wrong move by Tuchel.
Potter has made Sterling work just like every other squad member and has given him more defensive duties. He was played at left wing-back in Potter’s first match, and the team doesn’t revolve around him like it used to be.
3. Loftus-cheek mismanagement. I’m sure Ruben Loftus-cheek was as confused as every other Chelsea fan regarding what Tuchel really wanted from him. The German played him in roles out of correlation with his natural position. Playing Loftus-cheek in central defense and right wing-back with his type of skill set requires a lot of explanation.
Potter understands the fact that Loftus-cheek is a risk-taker and that’s not a bad trait in modern-day football. All he needs is to be played in a position where his ability benefits the team. The English tactician has pushed him high up the pitch, where he poses more threat to the opposition. This has helped him gain more confidence, and we can only hope he gets better from there.