Football

What can FPL managers expect from Graham Potter at Chelsea?

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While the short-term uncertainty over fixtures leaves us unable to do much Fantasy Premier League (FPL) planning with any great conviction, our editorial content will slowly resume with some less Gameweek-focused articles.

Here we look at what Graham Potter’s appointment as Chelsea manager means for FPL managers, and which players could potentially thrive under their new boss.

Chelsea announced the appointment of Potter as their new head coach on Thursday, following the departure of Thomas Tuchel.

The 47-year-old led Brighton and Hove Albion to their highest-ever top-flight finish in 2021/22 and left the Seagulls in fourth in the Premier League table.

As things stand, Potter’s first match in charge is set to be the UEFA Champions League clash against RB Salzburg on Wednesday.

THE HISTORY

Having come through the ranks at Birmingham City, Graham Potter went on to represent 12 different clubs across a 13-year playing career, including Stoke City, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion.

A few years after retiring, he began his coaching journey in Sweden with Ostersund’s, leading them from the fourth division to the top-flight, as well as winning the Swedish Cup and reaching the knock-out stages of the UEFA Europa League. The latter feat was especially impressive, given that they progressed from a group that included Athletic Bilbao and Hertha Berlin.

“When I started, we got attendances of 500 – now we’re playing in front of 30,000 at Hammarby and beating Gothenburg, who have competed in the Champions League before. It’s some difference to where we were a few years ago.” – Graham Potter

In 2018, Potter took over at Swansea City following their relegation from the Premier League. Although he could only guide them to a 10th-place finish in the Championship, his time in Wales was largely deemed a success, as he rebuilt a new, youthful side who hit their stride in the second half of the campaign. They also reached the FA Cup quarter-finals, where they suffered a narrow 3-2 defeat to reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.

That was enough to earn a move to Brighton in 2019, who had recently dismissed Chris Hughton. However, it took a while to implement his ideas and philosophy, with 15th and 16th place finishes in his first two seasons at the club. Still, the owners kept faith and were rewarded in 2021/22, when Brighton finished ninth, the club’s highest-ever Premier League finish.

2022/23 began with a first-ever win at Old Trafford, while last week’s 5-2 win over Leicester City lifted Brighton to fourth, which is even more impressive given that they sold two of their best players – Marc Cucurella (£5.2m) and Yves Bissouma (£4.8m) – in the summer.

PLAYING STYLE

“We were in front of the best English manager right now. As a spectator, I like to watch these teams. I like watching Brighton play. I recognise it. When I was a football player, I would love to play in this team.” – Pep Guardiola on Graham Potter’s Brighton

At Brighton, Graham Potter would regularly change systems, shifting from back four to back three formations depending on the opponent. However, since the backend of last season, he has favoured a possession-based and fluid 3-4-2-1 (see below), which is a similar shape to Tuchel’s Chelsea.

He likes to use players who are comfortable in a number of different positions, like Pascal Gross (£6.0m), Alexis Mac Allister (£5.6m), Solly March (£5.0m) and Leandro Trossard (£6.5m).

Indeed, the latter was signed as a winger, but also played as a number 10, a false nine, a central midfielder and more recently as a hybrid wing-back/inside forward, a position he thrived in.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Potter will stick with a 3-4-2-1 at Chelsea, but regardless of the formation, the fundamentals remain the same – defend as a team, focus on shape, build from the back, press a lot and commit players forward.

“He’s a players’ manager. He’s a problem solver. Tactically, he’s incredible at making sure when you step onto the pitch, everyone knows what they’re doing. What he’ll bring to Chelsea is exactly that. He’s a very calm person, and if he wants you to do something on the pitch, he takes responsibility if it goes wrong. He’s never there to throw anybody under the bus.” – Former Swansea City winger Nathan Dyer

THE PROSPECTS

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At this stage, we can only speculate about how Graham Potter will set up his team. However, we will get to see Chelsea in action prior to the next FPL deadline, when they face RB Salzburg in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

The fixtures, meanwhile, are very good from Gameweeks 9 to 12.

Chelsea’s defence has really struggled under Tuchel this season, but it’s an area that Potter should be able to fix, given his impressive record at Brighton in the past two seasons (see below).

Indeed, the Seagulls have allowed just five goals in their six league games in 2022/23, and two they have conceded were own-goals. By contrast, Chelsea have already conceded on nine occasions.

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