Five key Chelsea questions Graham Potter needs to answer ahead of must-win Spurs clash
It’s been a daunting period for Graham Potter and his Chelsea team, who find themselves languishing in 10th spot in the Premier League.
Chelsea are winless in five games across all competitions (D3, L2), leaving Potter with a few unanswered questions ahead of this weekend’s London derby against Tottenham Hotspur, which ended in a fiery handshake the last time these two teams met between former boss Thomas Tuchel and Spurs manager Antonio Conte, who will not be in the dugout on Sunday due to recovering from gallbladder surgery.
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Potter’s side can’t afford to drop even more points. They are 11 points behind Spurs, who are in fourth place and occupy the final Champions League qualification spot.
“A strong performance,” was the 47-year-old’s pre-match response when asked what’s required from his team against Spurs on Sunday. “We need three points. It’s a game we’re looking forward too. Training and response been really good.”
Heading into Sunday’s London derby which is likely to be another fiery and fierce affair as both sides look to clinch the city bragging rights, Absolute Chelsea picks through five questions Potter needs to answer going into the encounter.
Attack or defend?
Considering Chelsea’s wretched form, many clubs in the league would consider the Blues there for the taking. With that in mind, Potter has a decision to make regarding whether he wants his team on the front foot and breathing down Tottenham’s neck or whether they should play a bit more cautious and look to catch Spurs on the counter.
Antonio Conte’s men are known for their counter-attacking approach, so it will be interesting to see how Potter sets his team up on Sunday.
Back three or back four?
Knowing Tottenham will look to catch Chelsea on the counter, it remains to be seen whether Chelsea will play a back four or back three to prevent Spurs’ attacking players from finding room in the half-spaces, forming a back five out of possession. Thiago Silva and Reece James were both rested last weekend and are expected to make their way back into the starting fold.
Play Enzo Fernandez further forward?
Since Enzo Fernandez signed for Chelsea, Potter has deployed the Argentinian as Chelsea’s deepest midfielder. However, with the attributes the 22-year-old has, he’s more than capable playing further ahead as more of a box-to-box midfielder.
Fernandez shone in the World Cup playing that role and could be a perfect fit further up the pitch, especially with Denis Zakaria and Mateo Kovacic making comebacks from injury.
Who plays up top?
Potter threw a curveball last time out against Southampton, opting to start David Datro Fofana as opposed to top goalscorer Kai Havertz. The 20-year-old Ivorian proved to be a threat in the box, but it wasn’t to be as he still seeks his first goal for the club.
Havertz has lost his scoring boots in recent weeks but knows a thing or two about shining in big games for Chelsea, leaving Potter with a decision to make ahead of the derby.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also available, with Potter confirming he is available for selection again.
Options galore out wide
Potter’s biggest selection headache comes in the attacking wider areas with the Englishman blessed with an abundance of attackers who each pose a different kind of threat.
It’s likely that two of Noni Madueke, Mason Mount, Mykhailo Mudryk, Raheem Sterling and Hakim Ziyech will start on the left and right flank respectively. With Tottenham’s full-backs, there will be space in behind to cause issues to the Spurs backline, it all depends on which combination Potter decides to go with.