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Pressure increases on Graham Potter as Chelsea drop more points

Chelsea F.C. will undoubtedly try to spend their way out of trouble – when have they ever done otherwise? – However, 2023 appears to be a difficult year for Graham Potter.
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Serge Aurier, of all people, scored his first goal in nearly two years to earn Nottingham Forest a well-deserved point and leave Chelsea seven points behind the top four after just one win in their last seven Premier League games.

Raheem Sterling capitalized on a fortunate ricochet off the woodwork to give the visitors an early lead, but former Tottenham defender Aurier leveled the game after the break with a fine finish from a scrambled corner.

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The result did not lift Steve Cooper’s side out of the relegation zone, but it kept Chelsea in eighth place, far from where they were expected to finish.

Graham Potter, who is set to welcome Monaco defender Benoît Badiashile to Stamford Bridge in the coming days, is under pressure despite assurances from his American employers that he is a long-term project.

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“Our performance level wasn’t good enough to take the three points,” the former Brighton boss admitted. “We didn’t move the ball fast enough, not enough movement. We need to focus on the next match but clearly we have a long way to go.”

The next match is Manchester City by the way, in the league on Thursday. After that it is the same opposition in the FA Cup.

Forest, who take on fellow strugglers Southampton on Wednesday, became a pre-season laughing stock when they signed 22 new players – and Cooper confirmed he was keen for more additions this month.

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“We’ve picked up some long-term injuries to some key players so if we can add players in the right positions then we will want to do that,” he explained.

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Those he does currently have, on the other hand, have not disappointed him.

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Mason Mount, dubbed a ‘Derby reject’ by the home fans, ran in behind to give Forest an early scare but could not find the target. It wasn’t long before it was the hosts’ turn when Brennan Johnson, on the end of a quick counter attack, was denied twice by keeper Kepa.

Chelsea‘s pressing appeared to be festive, but Sterling was alert enough to give Chelsea the lead in the 16th minute.

Willy Boly’s heel deflected Christian Pulisic’s cross into his own crossbar, and Sterling patiently waited for it to fall to him so he could thump it beyond the defender on the line and celebrate scoring his first Premier League goal since August.

Graham Potter, the manager of Chelsea, during the Premier League game at Nottingham’s City Ground.

Willy Boly’s heel deflected Christian Pulisic‘s cross into his own crossbar, and Sterling patiently waited for it to fall to him so he could slam it past the defender in the way and celebrate his first Premier League goal since August.

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With a couple questionable decisions in Chelsea’s favour, notably a slider by Remo Freuler on Denis Zakaria that appeared to be legal ball-winning, and a booking for Ryan Yates for a foul on the same player, referee Peter Bankes enraged the home crowd.

Early in the second half, Taiwo Awoniyi put Kepa to the test, but the Spanish goalkeeper held out Johnson when he was in a good position. However, it would have been better for the Wales forward to square it for Awoniyi.

When Morgan Gibbs-White sent a shot from the edge of the box off the same crossbar that Boly had earlier struck, fortune smiled on Potter and co. When it bounced down and away, possibly off the bottom of his left-hand upright, Kepa barely moved and was relieved.

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With Chelsea in full swing and a leveler on the way, the only surprise when it came just past the hour mark was who scored it.

After complete confusion broke out in the Chelsea box as a result of a corner that Havertz headed up in the air at the near post, Aurier, a former Tottenham defender, made a nice finish. Before the Ivorian could chest the ball down and turn to slam it past Kepa from close range, a group of players from both teams challenged as it dropped.

Potter’s solution was to make three substitutions, allowing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to partner Havertz up front and the introduction of Conor Gallagher and Hakim Ziyech.

Ziyech’s pass was intercepted by Aubameyang, who just managed the slightest touch, depriving Pulisic of a good opportunity to score.

For Chelsea, it was one of those days, and Potter simply cannot afford too many more.

It was that sort of day for Chelsea – and Potter cannot afford too many more of those.

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