Graham Potter realistic on Chelsea top four hopes as boss bemoans ‘below par’ performance

Graham Potter, Chelsea, January 2023

Graham Potter gave a realistic view on his Chelsea side’s chances of finishing in the top four, as he bemoaned the ‘below par’ performance against Nottingham Forest.

A Chelsea win would have been their second in two games. While not a massive feat, it would have gone a long way, given the Blues lost each of their last three in all competitions before they overcame Bournemouth last time out.

Amid that poor run, Potter’s side had slipped away from the top six, coming into today’s game in eighth.

A fixture against a Forest side that started the day in 19th seemed a great opportunity to haul themselves back towards the top end. A win would have seen Chelsea leapfrog local rivals Fulham into seventh.

Early on, the signs that that would be the case were positive. The ball fell kindly into Raheem Sterling’s path off the crossbar in the 16th minute, and he had no problems with slotting it away.

In the 63rd minute, though, an unlikely goalscorer brought things level. Forest defender Serge Aurier, whose last goal came in January 2021, managed to find space from a corner and slot the ball between Kepa Arrizabalaga’s legs.

While that left Chelsea with ample time to find a crucial goal, they were unable to do so.

The draw was their fourth in the league this season, and first against a side that is not currently in the top half.

Potter disappointed in sloppy equaliser

Speaking after the game, Potter’s disappointment in conceding such a goal was evident. However, he was clear that his side could have done more in the game.

“It’s always disappointing to concede how we did, watching the game we weren’t in control at that point anyway,” he told BBC Sport.

“As much as I’m disappointed with the goal that’s not the reason we dropped points, our overall performance wasn’t good. We have to be honest and try to improve.”

There is a definite need for improvement, and that is evident in their league placement. A squad that is worth so much money should not be so far off the rest of their rivals.

Top four hopes fading

Potter was candid about his side’s performance, admitting that they were way off the pace.

“It was overall below par for us,” he said.

“We didn’t do well enough when we had control. Not easy to create against Forest because they can defend deep and attack spaces well. We can improve that.

“We suffered in the second half so in the end it’s a performance we’re not happy with, we have to accept the point but we are disappointed.”

With that disappointing is a realistic view on Chelsea’s chances of a top-four finish. They are clearly fading, and Potter knows more needs to be done if they are to get back there.

“It’s always tough because you have a lot of big teams with lots of top players and coaches. We need to focus on the next match but clearly we have a long way to go,” he said.

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