There’s a sense that Chelsea and new manager Graham Potter are gambling on each other following the latter’s appointment, especially given the Englishman’s lack of experience at the highest level.
However, Potter’s progressive brand of football and composed demeanour will provide a refreshing change at Stamford Bridge, particularly given the surrounding chaos and strained, off-the-field structure.
Of course, punters with a new Stake bonus offer will be loath to cash this in and back Chelsea to make the top four at present, at least until some stability has returned to the club.
But how will Chelsea line up in Potter’s first match against Chelsea? Let’s get into it!
Potter has favoured a fluid 3-4-2-1 formation at Brighton of late, while this was also Tuchel’s preferred system at the Bridge.
So, the new manager is likely to deploy this going forward, with Wesley Fofana and the ageless Thiago Silva likely to fill two of the three central defensive spaces in front of Édouard Mendy.
The left-side defensive spot will be between Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella, the latter of which was signed from Brighton for £60 million in the summer. So, we’re expecting the Spaniard to be deployed as an attack-minded centre half who’s comfortable on the ball, as this will play into Potter’s obvious playing philosophy.
Our Verdict: Mendy, Fofana, Silva, Cucurella
With Cucurella moving to the left centre back position, Ben Chilwell is likely to return to the familiar role of left wing back.
Chilwell made a superb return to the side against West Ham last week, scoring one and assisting another in a come-from-behind, 2-1 win.
Reece James is also shoe-in at right wing back, which leaves multiple players competing for two central midfield places in Chelsea’s slightly lop-sided squad.
With N’Golo Kante injured and Jorginho out of form, the smart money is one Mateo Kovačić to start (especially given Potter’s emphasis on energy and technical ability). To this end, Ruben Loftus-Cheek could start in the second position, with the rangy Englishman offering a strong ball-carrying option and goal threat.
Our Verdict: James, Loftus-Cheek, Kovačić, Chilwell
Potter likes pacy and dynamic forwards, so Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is likely to lead the line against Fulham and beyond.
Raheem Sterling also fits the Potter mould perfectly, so we’d expect him to flank Aubameyang on the left and make tireless runs inside the opposition full-backs.
Finally, we’d back Mason Mount to make the cut ahead of Kai Havertz. After all, Mount has a strong work-ethic and willingness to press that suits Potter’s philosophy, while this also enables him to play in a fluid front three while also contributing defensively.
This is conjecture, of course, but this side best fits Potter’s style of play and affords him the best chance of success from the outset.
Our Verdict: Mount, Aubameyang, Sterling