Chelsea vs Salzburg: Blues cough up late lead in Potter’s debut (video)

·4 min read

Chelsea vs Red Bull Salzburg recap: Graham Potter began his tenure as Blues boss with a frustrating 1-1 draw with the nine-time defending Austrian champions at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

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Raheem Sterling broke the scoreless deadlock three minutes into the second half after Chelsea dominated possession but were somewhat starved for scoring chances nonetheless. The Blues looked quite comfortable playing with the lead as they controlled the game at 1-0, until disaster struck an unlikely figure with a quarter-hour left to play.

It’s the first point of the UEFA Champions League group stage for Chelsea, who parted company with Thomas Tuchel following last week’s loss to Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb. Two games into Group E play, Chelsea sit bottom of the table with AC Milan (4 points), Zagreb (3) and Salzburg (2) above them.

What we learned from Chelsea vs Salzburg

Possession plentiful, scoring chances not so much (yet)

One key difference between the majority of Thomas Tuchel’s tenure and the fledgling one of Potter is rather simple: tempo. Chelsea tended to plod along and take very few risks in possession under Tuchel, whereas even in Potter’s first game in charge the pace of play had already changed considerably.

The other main change is that Chelsea moved the ball up the field (quickly) through lots and lots of combination play, typically in a jam-packed middle of the field. Potter’s system will rarely ask force individuals to play one-on-one in order to progress the ball or create scoring chances, as opposed to how the Blues played under Tuchel.

Speaking of scoring chances, all the possession in the world means nothing if you can’t link it all together in the final third, and that’s where Chelsea lagged behind on Wednesday. In the first half, they took nine shots but put none on target; in the second half, three of eight. It’ll take some time, but the combination of Potter’s success at Brighton and the superb talent at Chelsea, would seem to point toward the attack slowly coming together. At that point, it’ll simply be a matter of whether or not the Blues can finish those chances better than the Seagulls ever could.

One mistake undoes outstanding defensive performance

Given the risk involved with such fluid, full-field possession, it becomes paramount that Chelsea’s forwards and midfielders apply plenty of pressure higher up the field, with only two center backs patrolling the defensive third. It is, of course, far from ideal that Potter has Thiago Silva, 37, and Cesar Azpilicueta, 33, as the duo on his debut, but the veterans were reliable as ever, with the exception of one missed sliding tackle in the 75th minute.

How to watch Chelsea vs Salzburg live and start time

Date: Wednesday, September 14
Kick off time: 3 pm ET
Online: Live updates via NBCSports.com
How to watch: TUDN, Paramount+

Key storylines

It’ll be a whole new world for Potter, who managed EFL Championship side Swansea City prior to taking the Brighton job in 2019. The finances of Chelsea will afford him an entirely different caliber of player (the current squad as well), but it will be most interesting to see which players do (and don’t) fit into Potter’s plans and ideas.

Brighton often played with three defenders at the back (not entirely dissimilar to Tuchel) and relied heavily upon the full backs (a particular strength in Chelsea’s squad, including Marc Cucurella, who was signed from Brighton this summer) to create overloads in both wide and central areas. But it’s the midfield and forward line, where Chelsea are perhaps a bit thin (numbers-wise, not so much quality), which will be key. In Potter’s time at Brighton, the Seagulls never found a reliable goal-scorer to finish the chances they created with all that pretty possession, and that experience could serve him well at Chelsea, where Potter will need to find a consistent source of goals from the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Kai Kavertz, Raheem Sterling, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech.

Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: N’Golo Kante (hamstring) | QUESTIONABLE: Edouard Mendy (knee)

Chelsea vs Salzburg: Blues cough up late lead in Potter’s debut (video) originally appeared on NBCSports.com