Prior to his sacking, Thomas Tuchel talked about the need to start the season anew, to put the malaise of the first month behind us and try again. And for a hot second, it looked like we would in fact do just that, with the dramatic second half come-from-behind win over West Ham, our first such win at the Bridge in however long.
But that brief moment passed all too quickly, and we slumped to defeat in Zagreb instead last Tuesday, leaving Tuchel at his wit's end, and, ultimately at his job's end.
Five days on, we might have a new man in the dugout, and he might be our guy for the long-term, but in this very moment, the task at hand remains very much the same. This being our only game the rest of this month adds a bit more pressure as well.
Potter expects a “brilliant” occasion no matter what, but we’ll have to play a lot better than we have all season in order to truly deliver on that.
Date / Time: Wednesday, September 14, 20.00 BST; 3pm EDT; 12:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Ivan Kružliak (on pitch); Tomasz Kwiatkowski (VAR)
Forecast: cooler but dry
On TV: BT Sport 3 (UK); none (USA); Sony TEN 1 (India); SuperSport Variety (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK); Paramount+, ViX+ (USA); Sony LIV (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: N’Golo Kanté remains out with a hamstring injury and he’s again joined by Édouard Mendy, who’s been dealing with a slight knee problem. Kepa Arrizabalaga played last time and should be starting once again.
Tuchel made Chelsea’s back-three a fearsome and formidable foundation, until it lost its sturdiness and efficacy. He tried various back-four looks, but the execution levels were simply not there. Potter also used primarily a back-three at Brighton, which could mean a very familiar look to the team in this one.
Either way, a win is required to take control of the group after our shock defeat last week. Salzburg and Milan drew in their opener.
RB Salzburg team news: Pretty much the one and only team in Austria these days, coming off their ninth (9th!) consecutive league title and failing to win it (finishing second) just three times since 2005. Graham Potter may not be used to the Champions League, but Salzburg’s young bucks are certainly not used to losing — a trait they share with Dinamo Zagreb.
Salzburg are of course best known for being a talent-producing factory for the Red Bull football organization, with the likes of Erling Haaland, Sadio Mané, and Dominik Szoboszlai all coming through over the past decade. The current budding big star is 19-year-old striker Benjamin Šeško, who was already generating plenty of transfer rumors this summer (including some Chelsea links), though it’s Noah Okafor and Fernando who have carried most of the scoring burden so far.
Salzburg are currently unbeaten in seven straight in all competitions (six wins), and head coach Matthias Jaissle is quite confident of keeping that streak going.
“We haven’t seen any games of the new manager with Chelsea but we know about their individual quality. We have analysed their character and the new manager with ideas from his old club. We’re very well prepared.”
-Matthias Jaissle; source: UEFA
Previously: Dinamo Zagreb were the 198th different opposition we’ve faced, Salzburg are the 199th, though we did play them in a friendly a few years ago, with Frank Lampard’s Chelsea winning in typical Frank Lampard’s Chelsea fashion: five goals scored, three conceded. Christian Pulisic grabbed a brace, which wouldn’t go amiss today either, and Pedro scored one of the greatest preseason goals ever. (He’s still going at 35, mind.)