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Soccer News of Wednesday, 7 September 2022


Why Chelsea want Potter over Zidane and Pochettino

A collage of Potter, Zidane and Pochettino A collage of Potter, Zidane and Pochettino

Brighton and Hove Albion’s coach, Graham Potter is likely to be the next coach of Chelsea after the dismissal of Thomas Tuchel.

According to reports, The Blues is expected to meet Potter today about potentially taking over.

They are also keen on speaking with Mauricio Pochettino and Zinedine Zidane.

Zidane who has been away from management since he left Real Madrid in 2021 has remained coy over a return to the dugout, while Pochettino has Premier League experience with his time at Tottenham Hotspur.

Potter has impressed with the Seagulls since joining in 2019 and they currently occupy the last Champions League qualification spot on the Premier League table.

Their latest outing ended in a huge 5-2 defeat of Leicester City last Sunday.

Tuchel was fired on Wednesday, September 7 after a poor run of form. The defeat in Croatia to Dynamo Zagreb was the icing on the cake.

Below are a few reasons why Chelsea is keen on Potter. The list was curated from

Formative assessment

The most obvious alteration Potter has made to the Chris Hughton side he inherited is in terms of formation. While the world’s youngest 60-year-old favoured a rigid 4-1-4-1, sometimes opting for a 4-2-3-1 or variant thereof, Potter has shown a little more ingenuity and adventure. His three Premier League games thus far have seen a more structurally sound 3-4-3 or 5-2-3 used.

The focus on three at the back has been a staple of Potter’s coaching career. It provides a numerical advantage – or parity, at the very least – against any strikeforce.

Passing the test

A direct result of a more stable defensive base is that foundations for shorter, sharper passing have been laid. Players have more options to look for instead of simply launching long balls for Glenn Murray to chest down and hold up.

Brighton ranked 17th for average possession in the Premier League last season with 44.1%. In 2019/20 they are already eighth with 52.4% of the ball. The circumstances must be acknowledged – three mid-table opponents and two home matches – but the renewed emphasis on keeping the ball is clear.

The Seagulls are also registering a higher pass accuracy – 77.9% (11th) compared to 74.8% (16th) in Hughton’s final season. The integration of a third central defender has clearly helped here, because they are making 383 short passes per game (10th) as opposed to 306 (17th).

Age appropriate

On that note, one of Potter’s most popular decisions at Swansea was to rely more heavily on youth. He has not quite emulated that on the coast as of yet, but he has rebalanced the scales ever so slightly. Murray is the only player over 30 he has used in the Premier League this season; the striker was one of five tricenarians to feature under Hughton.

The starting XIs Potter has named are also slightly younger on average than Hughton’s in his final season. With Jose Izquierdo (27), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (26), Adam Webster (24) and Yves Bissouma (22) all first-teamers who are yet to even make a Premier League match-day squad, the days of Bruno (37), Gaetan Bong (31) and Beram Kayal (31) are long gone. Leon Balogun (31) has been similarly shifted out.

Attack the day

As if equalling the club’s biggest ever top-flight away win in his first game was not indication enough, Potter has instilled a greater attacking threat to the Seagulls. They have gone from 9.8 shots per game (19th, above only Burnley), to 11 (joint-13th, above Arsenal). They had the fewest shots on target per game (2.8) but are now joint-11th with 3.3.

Brighton are maximising their chances, taking a smaller portion of their shots from outside the box (27.2%) compared to 2018/19 (38.8%). They did have a higher percentage of efforts inside the six-yard box (8.6%) last campaign as opposed to this (6.2%), but more in the 18-yard box (67% to 53%) this season.

A case for the defence

With the great power of three at the back comes great responsibility to repel any and every attack. Brighton have gone from conceding 15.3 shots per game – the third-worst top-flight defence – to the seventh-best at just 10.3. They are also making more tackles (20.3 to 17.9) and interceptions (12.3 to 12.2).

The sneaky b*stard Seagulls that committed more fouls per game than any Premier League side last season (12.2) has settled down somewhat at 10.3, the joint eighth-highest. It turns out it’s difficult to keep chopping people down when you have more of the ball.