Graham Potter has backed his Chelsea players over any criticism of lack of effort during their 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest.
Chelsea kicked off 2023 with a point on the road at the City Ground despite taking a first half lead through Raheem Sterling from close range.
The hosts piled the pressure on after the interval and got their reward in the 63rd minute as Serge Aurier capitalised to strike past Kepa Arrizabalaga from a Forest corner to seal a 1-1 draw.
More dropped points away from home now sees Chelsea in ninth and six points off fourth place in the Premier League, leaving them with plenty of catching up if they wish to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Pressure is piling on Potter to get results but it’s not coming from the owners who are firmly behind the 47-year-old and the long-term project at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea haven’t been good enough though and Potter recognises that. After their win over Bournemouth on December 27 it could’ve been a turning point, however it wasn’t.
Potter refused to blame his players for any lack of effort after the draw against Forest. The head coach did ask for his side to take responsibility and told them it must improve.
“I think we stood up today,” Potter admitted post-match, as quoted by football.london.
“The effort was there. We played a draw against Brentford, you have to stand up there because it’s not an easy place to go. Aston Villa we won. Crystal Palace we won. Brighton wasn’t a good game for us at all and obviously, it was a completely different environment again. But that’s the Premier League for you.
“Away from home, teams are not going to make it easy for you. On the one hand, you’ve got players asking for shirts (after the game) and on the other, they are ready to ready to run through a brick wall before the game to prove they can be good enough to beat or play for Chelsea.
“That is how it is. With that comes responsibility for us and we have to be humble enough to know that is the challenge we face. We have to do better.”
It doesn’t get any easier for Chelsea as the New Year begins. They now face Manchester City in back-to-back games in the Premier League and FA Cup. Should Potter’s side fall to defeat in both, it’s going to be a long five months until the end of the season.
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