Graham Potter has had enough of work since becoming Chelsea‘s manager, but this weekend might present him with his toughest Premier League test so far.
Chelsea has improved to the top four and the top of their Champions League group with five victories and two draws under the leadership of the Blues head coach after a rocky start to the season.
This Saturday, Manchester United, who are now in fifth position and one point behind Chelsea, will be welcomed to Stamford Bridge. Erik ten Hag’s adjustment to his new surroundings caused them some difficulties as well, but they enter the game with four victories in their previous five games after defeating Tottenham 2-0.
The absence of Cristiano Ronaldo from the United squad will have caused a lot of distractions behind the scenes, and Chelsea will aim to capitalize on this and resume its winning ways.
Conor Gallagher‘s most recent was the topic that emerged from the draw with Brentford. The 22-year-old midfielder in that game needed to be replaced after 15 minutes, although Potter allayed concerns that it was an injury and said the player appeared ill.
Long-term absentees Reece James, Wesley Fofana, and N’Golo Kante are probably not difficult to understand, but further information on each will be available on Friday afternoon.
Does Potter’s suggestion that James would wear a brace for four weeks indicate surgery?
How did Kante respond to missing the World Cup and suffering a huge setback in his recovery?
In his press conference, Graham Potter stated: "I haven't spoken to the doctor, but he just felt ill. He felt like he was going to be sick. You could probably see that in his first 15 minutes, he wasn't quite himself, so hopefully, it's just a 24-hour thing, and he will be okay. Obviously, that probably affected him and us a little bit, but hopefully, he recovers quickly."
It will be possible to learn on Friday whether Gallagher is doing better and how serious of a problem he has. Chelsea’s capacity for rotation will therefore be called into doubt once more.
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Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United latest
This summer, Chelsea was frequently mentioned in the same sentence as Ronaldo. Given the recent news that Ronaldo has been suspended by Manchester United for refusing to enter the field against Tottenham, it won’t be surprising if his case dominates Graham Potter’s press conference.
Earlier this year, the former Brighton manager refused to address the prospect of a Ronaldo transfer, and he is unlikely to consent to doing so at Cobham on Friday. Despite the fact that Ronaldo’s time at Manchester United appears to be coming to an end, the question will undoubtedly be raised given Todd Boehly‘s summer interest.
Potter will undoubtedly be questioned about the circumstance, how he would handle a player who refused to come off the bench, and his opinion on Erik ten Hag’s position at Old Trafford. Without Ronaldo in the starting lineup, the Red Devils have won at home against teams like Arsenal, Liverpool, and Tottenham this season, showing some signs of improvement.
Ronaldo’s presence will be something for which Potter will not have to prepare his team for, potentially making the opposition more predictable.