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Football London
Football London
Scott Trotter

Four things learned as Chelsea make Liverpool coaching addition and futures remain in doubt

Different but not too different

Given that only Graham Potter and Billy Reid have departed Chelsea and the Blues have limited training time since Bruno Saltor was appointed interim-Chelsea head coach, it was difficult to expect too much to be different. Even much of how Bruno handles himself is reminiscent of Potter.

The Chelsea lineup saw two changes as Wesley Fofana returned and N'Golo Kante made his first start since August and the west London side formed what Bruno described as diamond with Enzo Fernandez at the base, Kante and Mateo Kovacic at either side and Joao Felix at the tip.

However, what followed was a performance that in many ways Chelsea are very familiar with. There was urgency and the Blues probably looked a better team than Liverpool but the story was of plenty of of possession, lots of shots and no goals.

READ MORE: Every word Bruno Saltor said on Liverpool, N'Golo Kante impact, Chelsea future and Gallagher sub.

Bruno's side had the ball in the net twice as Reece James and then Kai Havertz had a goal ruled out. The latter even managed to completed a celebration after he'd bundled the ball past Alisson before VAR showed that the ball deflected from the goalkeeper and onto the German star's arm en route to the net.

New ways to not score appear to be emerging all of the time. As per Opta, Chelsea have now scored 29 goals in 29 Premier League games and have only ever managed fewer at this stage in the league in 1921/22 and 1923-24.

N'Golo Kante is still special

The Frenchman did not start a game under Potter and what a player he missed out on being able to use. Kante was a man of the match candidate in his 69-minute display.

The 32-year-old's rehabilitation has been carefully managed with a slow reintroduction to play. His timeline hoped for a return by March and while he has been involved in training a conscious decision was taken to preserve his fitness and not risk another setback for the midfielder. It was worth the wait.

Kante covered plenty of ground and barely put a foot wrong during his time on the pitch, providing a number of nice through balls in addition to well-timed tackles and relentless pressing. The former Leicester star was named captain against Liverpool as Bruno noted ahead of the game "it's a real boost for all the players to have him in the side".

He maintained the same thought following the game and stated: "It's a massive impact for the boys, you could see for the fans as well. He makes players around him even better."

The wait for whether Kante receives a new contract has been clouded by uncertainty given his lack of playing time and Tuesday night in combination with his clear standing in the squad provides easy enthusiasm over his expected extension.

Not in the picture

As with each matchday, the squad that arrived to take on Liverpool had to do without a number of players there is simply no room for. On this occasion Trevoh Chalobah, Hakim Ziyech, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Carney Chukwuemeka, Denis Zakaria and David Datro Fofana were the players to miss out who were not injured.

Aubameyang has not been in a Premier League squad since the game against Leeds at the start of March and Ziyech and Zakaria since Leicester the week after, with their positions under the current coaching staff starting to seem set in stone. Summer moves are likely on the cards for the trio but they do not remain alone in that for the blues.

Chalobah has been involved in most squads but since the January game against Liverpool has managed just 32 minutes across nine Premier League matches. Against Aston Villa Reece James and Marc Cucurella were preferred and the return of Wesley Fofana has made Chalobah's position even more difficult, with Benoit Badiashile also not playing a minute in the last two games.

New first team coaching staff

While Potter and Reid were absent from the dugout following their departures from the club, their seats appeared filled on Tuesday night. Certainly one new figure had taken to the Stamford Bridge pitch to assist with the warm up process against Liverpool and he took a seat right next to Bruno to observe and advise on the match as it progressed.

Chelsea Under-21s boss Mark Robinson looks to have a key role and might just provide the only managerial experience in the set up at the moment. The game against Liverpool was the first match that Bruno had ever been required to select a starting XI for whereas Robinson has led the Under-21s side to second in Premier League 2 this season and has previously managed AFC Wimbledon.

Robinson is understood to have been involved in first team training on Monday too having only taken a role in the Under-21s dugout following half time of the Blues clash with Crystal Palace on Monday evening.


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