Pundit savages Chelsea duo as Graham Potter forced into decisions over player ‘not really that effective’

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Conor Gallagher, Christian Pulisic, October 2022

Stewart Robson feels Graham Potter is tinkering with the Chelsea midfield to compensate for the poor form of Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Blues were held to a 1-1 draw by Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Jorginho’s late penalty looked to have won it for the hosts. But Casemiro’s looping header deep in stoppage time gave the Red Devils a point they richly deserved.

United were all over a disjointed Chelsea side early in the match. The west Londoners were being overrun in midfield and Potter took action.

He replaced Marc Cucurella with Mateo Kovacic in the 36th minute, with Sterling joining Aubameyang in a front two.

Potter’s plan worked as Chelsea looked a more solid unit. But the strike duo failed to put away the chances that came their way.

And former Arsenal midfielder Robson believes there are issues surrounding Chelsea’s attacking play at present.

“It’s a problem,” he told ESPN FC. “When you see Sterling played for Chelsea [on Saturday], I thought he was really poor.

“He got himself in some good positions, but his final decisions and actual control weren’t particularly good. He wasn’t making the right runs.

“Aubameyang, he’s the player I saw at Arsenal in the last couple of years where he’s not that really effective.”

Sterling has scored three goals from nine top-flight outings since moving to Stamford Bridge in the summer.

Aubameyang has notched just once from three league appearances but has scored twice in the Champions League.

Striking woes forcing Potter re-think

Sterling is Chelsea’s top Premier League goalscorer this term. Eleven players have shared the club’s 16 league goals, with Jorginho, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz each bagging twice.

There are clearly issues going forward. And Robson believes it presents the boss with a headache as to which combination to field across the middle of the pitch.

“Potter is a good coach. I think he knows how he wants his side to play,” he added.

“But unless he can get somebody to play in that centre-forward position, he’s got to do a lot of tinkering in midfield to create more chances, so at some point, they will score a goal.”

Options limited after summer exits

Potter also has the likes of Christian Pulisic and Armando Broja at his disposal. But neither star is the type of player to lead the line on a regular basis.

Summer departures left the ex-Brighton chief light in the attacking areas.

Timo Werner left for RB Leipzig while Romelu Lukaku returned to Inter Milan on a season-long loan.

Aubameyang is clearly the man that Potter wants to play the central striking role. But the former Gabon hitman has yet to hit the heights back in England’s top division.

It may be that his goalscoring touch returns with more playing time. But for now, Potter needs to be creative to try and keep pace with the Chelsea’s top-four rivals.

They currently sit fourth with 21 points to their name, with capital rivals Arsenal six points ahead and with a game in hand.

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