Premier League • England

Graham Potter says ‘bring it on’ as Chelsea boss disagrees with Antonio Conte; admits concern for Blues

Graham Potter, September 2022

Chelsea manager Graham Potter says he is flipping any concerns over the packed pre-World Cup schedule on their head, insisting it is a “chance to play”.

The Blues have had a mixed start to the campaign and have already undergone a change of manager. Indeed, Potter has moved to Stamford Bridge to replace Thomas Tuchel.

But, Potter has had an interrupted start to life as Chelsea manager. Since taking the job on September 9, the 1-1 Champions League draw with RB Salzburg has been his only assignment so far.

A Premier League pause for the late Queen’s death, as well as policing concerns for her funeral, have disrupted Chelsea’s calendar.

As a result, Saturday’s clash away at Crystal Palace is Potter’s first league game in charge of the Blues. And from here on in, it is all steam ahead with a packed fixture list before the World Cup in Qatar.

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte and Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp have voiced their concerns about the football calendar in recent seasons.

Asked about the former’s comments, though, Potter said: “I can understand where he’s coming from but from my perspective I see it as a positive but I think it’s a chance for us to play.

“We’ve not played for a while. We’ve got a good group, a big group that are all itching to play, good competition in the squad. Yeah, bring it on.”

Potter added that he has “huge respect” for his Chelsea predecessor Tuchel and that he is “not in the business of comparing myself to him”, when asked how his Blues side will play.

On the injury front, Potter has some selection headaches ahead of his Chelsea Premier League bow. N’Golo Kante and Edouard Mendy are both unavailable in midfield and between the sticks, respectively.

What’s more, Marc Cucurella and Carney Chukwuemeka are ill, but “apart from that everybody is fit”.

Graham Potter has record to end with Chelsea

Potter has never beaten Palace in seven meetings with the Eagles as a manager.

The 47-year-old said Patrick Vieira “has done a fantastic job” at Selhurst Park, which he said makes it “difficult for the away side for whoever it is”.

As for that particular statistic, though, Potter said: “I’ve missed those stats bringing a bit of negativity.

“It just shows how the Premier League is and how tough it is. We’ve had some tough games against Palace where we could have won and the margins are small but that’s how it is.

“That’s history. We’re looking forward to the game on Saturday and changing that record.”

Blues yet to prove themselves

It has been a stop-start season for Chelsea and the recent postponements have not helped them.

They have yet to really hit the ground running and put down a marker, something they can do now with their run of games.

And Potter’s enthusiasm to get stuck into the pre-World Cup challenge will surely rub off onto the Chelsea players.

That is without the players showing willingness to fight for their new manager and being excited by his principles.

Therefore, there is hope for Chelsea that they can finally get firing on all cylinders before the mid-season break.

READ MORE: Chelsea boss will not spend in January, says pundit