LONDON – Graham Potter’s reign at Chelsea has now officially begun. In Chelsea’s first game since coach Thomas Tuchel was sacked last week, the Blues settled with a 1-1 draw against Salzburg in the Champions League on Wednesday.
With this result, Chelsea now have just one point from their opening Champions League group stage matchese.
Report: Chelsea – Salzburg | UEFA Champions League schedule | Upcoming matches
Raheem Sterling’s second-half goal became Chelsea’s first in the Champions League after the first half faltered, but Salzburg scored the equalizer through Noah Okafor.
James Ole of ESPN is in London with reaction and analysis.
1. Graham Potter-based property quit due to familiar issues
Potter’s reign at Chelsea began with a 1-1 draw with Red Bull Salzburg, and a look at the quality of football the 47-year-old will aim to deliver at Stamford Bridge.
There were hallmarks of his predecessor Thomas Tuchel’s first game in charge – a 0-0 draw against Wolverhampton – in that match the Blues played three times behind and controlled the ball, registering 78.9% of possession that night. In Potter’s three full seasons at the helm at Brighton, his side’s average possession was 51.7%, 50.7% and 54.3%, so it comes as no surprise that Chelsea, armed with better players here, raised that figure to 70.8%.
However, Tuchel’s Chelsea and Potter’s Brighton had one thing in common, and that was the extravagance in front of goal. The Blues finished these 90 minutes with several impressive chances, most recently when Armando Bruga fired over the bar in injury time.
At least they scored, but the defensive weakness that caused so much damage to Tuchel’s Chelsea over time resurfaced as Thiago Silva’s failed interception allowed Junior Adamo to pass and Noah Okafor to equalise.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS and more (US)
2. Raheem Sterling continues his rise in a different role
Perhaps the most interesting individual assignment in the 3-5-2 form was to use Sterling as a left-back.
In truth, Sterling was usually so far off the field that he often looked like a wide striker, and Potter would be pleased that the goal came from an overburden in that position, as Mason Mount’s pass on the right wing found its way through Pierre Emerick. Aubameyang to Sterling, who made good use of his time to hit the ball into the far corner.
Sterling was just getting on his feet at the end of Tuchel’s stint in leadership – he’s scored three times in his last four games – and was a constant threat here before withdrawing six minutes from the end.
Arguably the negatives of Sterling playing this role were demonstrated by Salzburg’s equalizer as both Sterling and left-back Mark Cucurella were caught.
3. Christian Pulisic still has an alternate role effect
Pulisic played a substitute role in all seven matches prior to Tuchel’s departure. Downsizing the role was one of the reasons he was keen to walk away from the club in the summer transfer window, something the club hierarchy refused to consider.
Potter’s arrival marked a fresh start for the entire team, but Pulisic found himself with only limited time to make an impact, presented as Chelsea’s final change with Sterling with just six minutes remaining. Pulisic only had 11 touches and completed eight of his nine passes, but he clearly had a tough job saving the cause late in the day.
The good news for the US men’s international team is that they are on the field. The bad news is that his wait to start a club-level match will now continue in October – less than two months before the World Cup begins.
Chelsea: Kepa 6, James 8, Azpilicueta 6, Silva 7, Cucurella 6, Mount 7, Kovacic 7, Jorginho 6, Sterling 7, Aubameyang 7, Havertz 5.
Subs: Bruga 6, Loftus-Cheek 6, Gallagher 6, Zych 5, Pulisic 6.
Salzburg: Kohn 7, Dedic 7, Bernardo 7, Pavlovic 7, Ulmer 7, Capaldo 6, Seiwald 6, Kjaergaard 6, Sucic 6, Sesko 7, Okafor 7.
subs: Gourna-Douath 6, Kameri 6, Adamu 7, Koita 6.
Best and worst performer
Best performer: Reece James, Chelsea.
England manager Gareth Southgate was on hand to watch a typical dynamic display at full-back from James, whose movement caused problems for Salzburg and his pass fired by Mount to set up Sterling’s goal.
Worst Performer: Kai Havertz, Chelsea.
Another quiet night for the 23-year-old, who had a partner in Aubamean, but were both substituted in the 66th minute.
Highlights and Highlights
Thomas Tuchel is gone but not forgotten by the fans at Stamford Bridge, who honored their former coach during the match. Tuchel was sacked last week after Chelsea opened their Champions League campaign with a loss to Dinamo Zagreb:
applause from #cfc Fans in the 21st minute in tribute to Thomas Tuchel, who led Chelsea to the 2021 Champions League.
– James Olley September 14, 2022
After the first half, Raheem Sterling opened up the Chelsea goalscorer for the Champions League season quickly after the break:
– CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (CBSSportsGolazo) September 14, 2022
But Chelsea’s progress did not last. Salzburg found a good target (although Chelsea felt there was a build-up error) and got back up and running in the last 15 minutes:
Noah Okafor Stones Stamford Bridge! 😲 pic.twitter.com/WRxItHTcbk
– CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (CBSSportsGolazo) September 14, 2022
After the match: What the managers said, the players said
On the score, Chelsea coach Graham Potter: “We are disappointed with the result. I thought the boys gave everything. We scored a good goal, but we lost a little bit in the second half but their goalkeeper made some good saves. That’s what it is, we have to expose ourselves down. The character and the application were good, we will improve. We’ve got Raheem in one-on-one situations a lot of the time and the goal was a good result for that.”
Potter on whether or not players need time to get used to it: “I have been very positive with the players, their response, their behaviour. They are smart. They are good players, great players. They work hard for each other. There is a nice spirit in the group. They are frustrated that the results did not go as they like, which is normal and you can Being disappointed, you can feel that frustration. But my job is to help them try to get the results they want, which we all want. Today is not the best start in terms of points for us but in terms of how we behave on the pitch, as a group, a lot of positives “.
Potter on moving to take over the team: “It has not been easy for the boys, they have responded well to us over the past few days and this is a point we have to take and get better. The situation has been great, no complaints apart from the fact that we didn’t. Three points.”
Basic Statistics (Provided by ESPN Statistics and Information)
Raheem Sterling scored his first goal in the Champions League with Chelsea. Since the 2019-20 Champions League season, no English player has scored more goals (11).
Chelsea finished with one point during their first two Champions League games of the season. This is the lowest number during their first two matches in a single Champions League season since 1999-00, when they also earned one point.
Chelsea: The Blues return to the Premier League and head to Crystal Palace at 10am ET on Saturday 1 October. Then, they resume the Champions League by hosting Milan on Wednesday October 5 at 3pm. ET.
Salzburg: Die Routine Pauline Back to play in the Austrian Bundesliga, hosted by Rapid Vienna on Sunday, September 18th at 11am ET.