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Talking Tactics

Chelsea set to benefit from Potter's flexible approach

Adrian Clarke 23 Sep 2022
Graham Potter_CHE_TALKING TACTICS

Adrian Clarke explains how Blues will adapt to various formations under new head coach

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 9.

Graham Potter (CHE)

Chelsea are likely to become a more tactically versatile side under new head coach Potter in the months ahead.

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The 47-year-old likes adaptable players who can switch positions seamlessly. This fits well with his flexible, strategically fluid style of in-game management.

Under Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea usually lined up in a 3-4-2-1 or 3-4-1-2 formation, but from the start and middle of matches, Potter will ask his players to fit into a wide range of shapes.

During 2021/22, he used 13 different systems of play at Brighton & Hove Albion, the most of any Premier League head coach. His preferred set-up was 3-5-2, but this only featured in 23.7 per cent of Brighton's matches.

Potter likes to keep rival managers guessing when it comes to the tactical structure of his team.

Most formations used 2021/22
Manager Different formations Main formation Times used
Potter 13 3-5-2 9
Rodgers 10 4-2-3-1 16
Smith 10 4-2-3-1 11
Hasenhuttl 8 4-4-2 28

In Potter's first match in charge of Chelsea, a 1-1 draw with RB Salzburg in the UEFA Champions League, we witnessed some of his early ideas.

The use of Raheem Sterling as a left-wing back will have shocked some observers, but at Brighton he would often put Leandro Trossard, a similar attacking player, in that role, too.

Sterling was not inhibited by this unusual role, enjoying eight touches in the opposition box and putting his team ahead.

Possession won in final and middle third
Club Poss. won in final third Club Poss. won middle third
LIV 287 LIV  1106
MCI 240 LEE 1037
BHA 219 BHA 1003
CHE 181 CHE 983

Pressing with organisation and detail also forms a key part of Potter's philosophy.

He likes to set up traps, especially when opponents pass out from the back.

So, keep a lookout for changes to the way Chelsea defend inside the opposition half.

Central midfielders and wide attackers will be asked to step forward and pressurise opponents with greater frequency.

After seven rounds of matches, Brighton are joint leaders for shots from high turnovers, with 10. Potter's new team, Chelsea, boast just five by comparison.

Chelsea's upcoming opponents must be wary of this change of tact when they keep possession inside their own half.

Goals to come?

Brighton had a reputation for creating lots of opportunities, but scoring relatively few goals.

Their 8.9 per cent conversion rate was the lowest of all 17 sides who did not get relegated last term.

They also ranked 16th for the number of shots they attempted per goal, way behind Chelsea (sixth), who needed an average of 3.6 fewer shots to find the back of the net compared to Brighton.

Most shots per goal 2021/22
Club Shots per goal
Leicester 7.0
Spurs 7.1
Man City 7.2
West Ham 7.5
Liverpool 7.7
Chelsea 7.8
Brighton 11.4

Working with better finishers at Stamford Bridge, there is a hope that Potter's formula will yield far more goals at Chelsea.

This is an exciting opportunity for Potter, who has rightly been recognised as one of the brightest coaches in the division.

Next: How O'Neil's changes have lifted AFC Bournemouth

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