Less than two months ago, on September 8, Graham Potter suddenly left Brighton & Hove Albion, jumping at the chance to become the next Chelsea manager. Three happy and relatively successful years came to an abrupt end with the decision, and the head coach departed without as much as a wave to the Seagulls faithful.
In fact, with the scheduling issues around The Queen’s passing, Brighton didn’t play a single game in September after Potter’s departure, so by the time they returned to action three weeks later in October, there was simply a new man in charge, Roberto De Zerbi.
De Zerbi has yet to win any of his five games in charge, though he does have that excellent 3-3 debut draw against Liverpool and the schedule has not been kind. Meanwhile, Potter’s yet to lose any of his nine (9!) games in charge. (Yes, we’ve played nearly twice as many games as Brighton in that time.) The Chelsea head coach’s hoping that the football gods don’t have any sort of special narrative in mind for Saturday.
“Of course, they’re capable of [winning]. I think they’ve been unlucky. That’s the only thing I can say, their performance have been good. A lot of positives there. The difference is, luck; sometimes you need it. They haven’t had too much from what I’ve seen. Performances have been good, they’ve got the capability, I know the quality of the team, so it’s a tough game for us.”
“[We] all want to win the game. We all want to play to win. I think the difference is luck. We’ve won our games, when we’ve picked up points we’ve had a little bit of luck. When I look at Brighton they haven’t had too much luck. As much as we want to say that we’re these all-knowing, supreme, highly intelligent, fantastic coaches, you need some luck as well, that’s for sure. Both of us under pressure to answer your question because it’s Premier League match we both want to win and it’s going to be a good game.”
I would like to argue that there is a difference in individual talent levels as well, and I would hope that there is also a difference in terms of coaching and tactics, but perhaps Potter’s just being diplomatic.
And speaking of making a difference, injuries. Kalidou Koulibaly remains sidelined with a supposedly “minor” knee injury, which has now ruled him out for three games because of course there is no such thing as a minor knee injury. Fortunately, everyone else is fit enough to (or at least not injured badly enough to not) play.
“Pretty much the same as we were against Salzburg. Mateo no problem with his calf, just more fatigue. Koulibaly, game came too soon, outside chance for Wednesday but not for tomorrow.”
The narrative focus will be on the head coach ahead of the game, but hopefully after the whistle goes, it’ll be more of the good things we saw on Tuesday.
“These things happen in football. Sometimes life throws you opportunities and you have to take them or not. Timing wasn’t great for anybody but sometimes that happens and it’s about the decision. The decision to work here was too good to turn down. As for the crowd, what my expectations are, I don’t really have any. Most people I’ve spoken to from Brighton have been very supportive and thankful but I’m not naive, I know that’s not universal.
“[Being unbeaten is] nice but it’s not something I’m focused on. I just want to prepare the team and play well and try and win the game against Brighton which will be tough enough. I don’t worry about anything like that, I just focus on the game.”
-Graham Potter; source: Football.London
As another Potter might say, hocus-pocus focus! Let’s go!