LONDON (AFP) – Chelsea are yet to lose in eight games under Graham Potter, but the Blues are still suffering from the lack of firepower that led to Thomas Tuchel’s demise at Stamford Bridge.
Jorginho’s penalty in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Saturday is the only goal Chelsea have managed in their last two games.
Even at the height of Tuchel’s time at Chelsea when they won the Champions League in 2021, goals were at a premium, with their success built on a solid defensive foundation.
The German was sacked seven games into this season, just days after the end of a transfer window where he had a major influence on Chelsea’s recruitment.
Tuchel pushed to be reunited with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after their time together at Borussia Dortmund and also championed the signing of Raheem Sterling from Manchester City.
But neither have fired consistently for Potter.
Sterling is still Chelsea’s top scorer this season with four goals despite his last coming in Potter’s first game in charge against Salzburg.
Aubameyang has shown flashes of his predatory best, including in the high point of Potter’s reign so far in consecutive wins over AC Milan to put Chelsea back on track in the Champions League.
But the former Arsenal captain has just three goals in nine appearances overall.
“We were sort of nearly there but lacked the last bit,” said Potter after the draw with United left Chelsea seven points adrift of Premier League leaders Arsenal.
“That is an area as a team where we can do better, in terms of our attacking play. It’s something we can improve,” Potter said.
Chelsea’s maximum return from two games against Milan has at least put them in a much better position to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League.
Victory in Salzburg tonight will secure qualification and most likely guarantee top spot in the group.
Potter had never even attended a Champions League game before his bow in the competition last month.
But he has quickly answered questions over his readiness for one of the top jobs in club football after an unusual coaching career path that began in the Swedish lower leagues with Ostersunds.
With United having the better of the opening half-hour on Saturday, Potter responded with a substitution after just 36 minutes with Mateo Kovacic replacing Marc Cucurella to even up the numbers in midfield.
Chelsea were much improved after the change, but without the killer touch that has led to renewed rumours about a move for the man who was not at Stamford Bridge at the weekend.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at United has been plunged into further doubt by his refusal to come on as a substitute during a 2-0 win over Tottenham last week.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was subsequently left out of the squad against Chelsea by Erik ten Hag.
A potential summer bid for Ronaldo was reportedly a source of tension between Chelsea’s new chairman and co-owner Todd Boehly and Tuchel.
The American is known to be keen to exploit the commercial opportunities that the Portuguese star would bring and Chelsea are one of the few clubs that could match his wage demands.
But Tuchel’s resistence to the idea that the 37-year-old still has the dynamism to lead the line for a major club has been backed up by Ten Hag’s decision to leave him sidelined for most of the season.
In their search for goals, Chelsea can ill afford Boehly to be blinded by what Ronaldo was rather than the player he is now.