Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Football London
Football London
Scott Trotter

Winners and losers from Graham Potter's key Chelsea change that could help salvage Blues' season

March 2023 wil have brought a small degree of relief for Graham Potter. Chelsea had managed just one win and four goals across 11 matches in 2022 before welcoming Leeds United to Stamford Bridge, and even with some security in his role, the pressure was well and truly on to salvage some momentum.

Wesley Fofana's goal ensured a narrow win over Leeds before Potter's men went on to secure Champions League progression against Borussia Dortmund and three points against Leicester City. The Blues could only manage a draw against Everton but ensured an unbeaten month ahead of the final stretch of 11 Premier League fixtures and a European quarter-final against Real Madrid.

There was a clamour for Chelsea to turn to four at the back in the early parts of Potter's tenure and the World Cup break signalled a point at which the Blues boss felt confident enough to implement it more regularly. However, it was a return to a system based on three central defenders that has coincided with Chelsea's form starting to turn around.

READ MORE : Thomas Tuchel has already warned Chelsea of harsh reality Hakim Ziyech faces under Graham Potter takes a look at those players that have been helped and hindered by the adjustment.


Marc Cucurella - It's safe to say the summer signing's start to life at Chelsea has probably not been as smooth as he would have hoped. The Spaniard's struggle for form has been closely associated with Potter's struggles as Blues boss and led to a great deal of criticism for the 24-year-old.

Cucurella was left of Chelsea's squad for games against Southampton, Tottenham and Leeds before making a valiant return to put in an outstanding performance against Borussia Dortmund on the left of a back three. He produced an aggressive outing that he backed up in the same role against Leicester, and while he may not be everpresent for the remainder of the season, the change in formation has proved a really positive step.

Ben Chilwell - The Chelsea defender has been solid since returning from injury but it is always refreshing to see him given plenty of licence to arrive in the opposition box. He quietened the boo boys against his former side Leicester with a goal and given a sustained period to prolong the impact can only benefit the Blues. It will likely see similar benefits for Reece James, which is no bad thing either.

Kai Havertz - Three goals in as many games speak for itself, even if two have been from the penalty spot but Havertz has seemed freed by seeing his position change from directly leading the line. With width now coming from the wingbacks, the German's attacking support can be directed more narrowly with the likes of Raheem Sterling and Mykhailo Mudryk being given responsibilities to test the opposition backline and Havertz and Joao Felix given freedom to support and create from behind.


Hakim Ziyech - The Morocco international struggled to find his way when Thomas Tuchel relied on a back three and has already seen a similar pattern under Potter. Ziyech hasn't played a minute in March and while Potter persists with this formation chances will be hard to come by.

That will be true for other wingers too, with only one forward slot available if Havertz and Felix continued to be entrusted as the primary two components.

Mason Mount - While Mount has thrived in similar systems in the past, his form this season likely leaves him on the outskirts of both midfield and attacking lines. While 4-3-3 offered the England international an opportunity to operate between lines or on the wing, he is now more closely fighting for the final spot in the forward three, with little chance of breaking into the midfield two.

Conor Gallagher - While the former Crystal Palace loanee continues to find opportunities from the bench, the reduction of one midfield spot can only hurt his playing time overall. Enzo Fernandez is proving undroppable for the Blues and is forming a promising partnership with Mateo Kovacic. N'Golo Kante's return from injury will damage anyone's chances and Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Gallagher may find themselves struggling for starts in the centre of the pitch.


Chelsea owner Todd Boehly 'determined' to strike statement deal

Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp were right about Christian Pulisic and Chelsea have proven it

Latest Chelsea injury news as nine could miss Aston Villa amid N'Golo Kante plan

Chelsea owner Todd Boehly has £35m bid 'rejected' after seven months of talks

Victor Osimhen has told Chelsea manager Graham Potter what he wants to hear

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.