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How Graham Potter is transforming Chelsea

After three games at the helm, Graham Potter’s impact on this Chelsea side has become clear.

When Potter took the reigns at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were sat in midtable, had no real attacking threat and had already suffered rather embarrassing losses at the hands of Leeds United and Southampton.

Potter has since taken charge of three matches. A 1-1 draw with RB Salzburg, a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace and, most recently, a 3-0 win over AC Milan, which was Chelsea’s best display for many months and their first clean sheet since the opening weekend vs Everton.

A simple look at the data shows how quickly Potter has begun to get the Blues firing once more.

In Graham Potter’s first three games as Chelsea boss, the west Londoners have averaged 2.17 xG per match. Whereas in Tuchel’s last three matches in charge, they only averaged 1.1 xG per match.

Chelsea are also having more shots and making more progressive passes. And whilst Chelsea were holding onto the ball more under Tuchel and completing more passes, they were doing so in less effective areas. So, whilst Chelsea are on the ball less now, they are doing much more with it.

Chelsea’s last three games under Thomas TuchelxGTotal shotsPasses/accurateProgressive passes/completed
Vs Southampton 1.1 8 547/458 77/56
Vs West Ham 0.76 6 634/570 63/57
Vs Dinamo Zagreb 1.49 13 650/575 104/91
Chelsea’s first three games under Graham PotterxGTotal shotsPasses/accurateProgressive passes/completed
Vs RB Salzbrug 2.16 17 650/556 80/64
Vs Crystal Palace 2.28 13 601/540 71/58
Vs AC Milan 2.08 11 491/424 108/74

Graham Potter is also getting a lot more out of Ruben Loftus Cheek. Under Tuchel, RLC was often used at right-wing-back – a role he did fairly well in, but it was not the best use of his ability.

Vs AC Milan, however, Loftus-Cheek was given more of a license to go forward, and this resulted in an excellent display that saw him impacting the attacking and also pressing Milan well.

Loftus-Cheek won eight of his 14 defensive duels vs Milan on Wednesday, only one less than he won in every game he played as a midfielder under Tuchel this season.

One of the best examples of Loftus-Cheek’s effectiveness under Potter came late in the first half.

The Englishman intercepts a ball meant for Sandro Tonali.

He then passes the ball to Mason Mount who finds Raheem Sterling.

Loftus-Cheek continues his run forward, receives the ball back from Sterling before carrying the ball goalward and then slipping in Sterling for a Chelsea chance.

Another somewhat subtle change made by Potter with great impact has been his use of Mason Mount.

After Raheem Sterling signed over the summer, Mount has been used more on the right. And even when played on the left under Tuchel, he was asked to stay wide.

Potter, though, has clearly encouraged Mount to play more centrally, rather than sticking to the touchline.

This has led to Mount having much more of an impact on games. Under Potter, he has so far averaged 0.22 xG compared to the 0.14 in Tuchel’s final three games.

And unlike under Tuchel, Mount has more of license to drift across the front line along with Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

This new free-roaming style led to several chances for the Blues vs Milan

In this example, Mount drifts over to the right of the pitch, with Aubameyang taking up his position on the left.

Mount receives a long ball from Kepa Arrizabalaga and plays in Sterling.

Sterling is then put through on goal and has a great chance to square it to the free Aubameyang, but he takes to long to get the ball out of his feet and the pass is blocked.

It is not just in attack where Chelsea have improved under Potter, though. Edouard Mendy has been Chelsea’s no.1 for some time now, seeing big-money signing Kepa Arrizabalaga demoted to a fringe role following some questionable displays brought on by a lack of confidence.

However, Potter has shown faith in the Spaniard, and he has so far been rewarded. Mendy suffered an injury last month which led to Kepa being afforded a starting berth vs RB Salzburg and Crystal Palace. But even after Mendy returned, Kepa still maintained the no.1 spot vs AC Milan and he has been in much better form than his counterpart in said games.

Mendy has averaged 1.34 goals conceded this term, compared to Kepa’s 0.69. He also has an xGC of 1.69, compared to Kepa’s 0.92.

The Spaniard is outshining Mendy when it comes to passing as well. Kepa is currently producing 1.15 passes into the final third, 6.64 long passes and 9.85 forward passes per match. Mendy, on the other hand, has averaged 1.04 passes to the final third, 4.46 long passes and 6.55 forward passes.

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Josh Barker

Middlesbrough fan from the North East of England. @JoshBarker979 on Twitter.

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