Chelsea were not expected to compete with, let alone beat Manchester City tonight at Stamford Bridge, and that’s perhaps more damning than any sort of defeat may have been — be that a Sarri-esque 6-0, or a Conte-esque 1-0. As it turned out, it was somewhere between those two, even if the result in the end was deceivingly narrow.
We actually had the (slight) upper hand in the first-half as Pep Guardiola took this game as an opportunity to amuse himself with some tactical weirdery (Rodri center back? Cancelo right wing? Aké left back?), before reverting back to something more cohesive and ensuring that they’d get their inevitable goal and three points.
So. We avoided embarrassment, so at least we’ve got that going for us, which is nice — especially as nothing much else seems to be going for us at the moment. Three more injuries today (Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling, Christian Pulisic) make it ten first-team players sidelined at the moment. Defeat means it’s now 1 win from 8 in the league. Hard to remember a worse run, though records will show that we went seven straight without a win in early 2012-13.
Unlike Roberto Di Matteo, Graham Potter is in no danger of a sacking, so he’s urging focus on the greater context — for the greater good! — while keeping his own focus as narrow as possible.
“To think about what is going to happen in five months’ time is the wrong path for us. We just have to focus on the next day and the next game. We have to keep being together, keep the performance level we showed today, keep taking the challenges that come our way, and try to stay together as a team and as a club and move forward.”
“[The injuries don’t] make it any easier. It’s too soon [to know the extent]. Raheem, it was his first action in the game, a strange one, a back heel. Christian’s, he was running at full pelt and it’s a blocked shot and contact with his knee. Fingers crossed it’s not too bad.
“Mason got a kick yesterday in training, again we’re hopeful for the weekend but it’s one of those things at the moment. I’ve never experienced anything like it and I’d ideally not want experience it here. But it is what it is, I have to just carry on.”
“[...] There are factors to consider and the margins of the Premier League are small [but they] are what they are. For me, it’s more about how we play and I think in terms of analysing how we can improve, we took a step today. We were disappointed after Nottingham Forest but we took a step forward today in terms of our performance.”
-Graham Potter; source: Football.London
Pro sports with proper ambitions hardly afford the time necessary for such minor steps forward to make any difference. Potter does have that time, perhaps uniquely among coaches at top clubs, so let’s hope that the greater context will (eventually?) indeed put all this in a good light.
“You always have to take responsibility but you hope people look at the whole context and see where we are and what we have had to deal with but at the same time emotions are high and you have to try and ride out any storm and try to stay level. The crowd were behind the team and could see them doing everything.”
-Graham Potter; source: Sky via BBC
We might need Lucky Jack Aubrey to ride this storm out.