Chelsea’s choice to sack Thomas Tuchel subsequent last week’s Champions League decline to Dinamo Zagreb caught just about every person off guard, but their subsequent get in touch with to appoint Brighton manager Graham Potter to the purpose was significantly much more predictable.
Pursuing the postponement of the weekend’s fixtures, Potter’s initial match in charge arrives on Wednesday in opposition to Pink Bull Salzburg in Europe. But how will this new Chelsea period under Potter start?
Potter’s operate at Brighton
Following his playing job, Potter’s first absolutely specialist managerial occupation was at Ostersund in Sweden. He produced a identify for himself there, taking them from the fourth tier all the way to the Europa League by virtue of winning the Swedish Cup, and taking part in some slick football together the way. Just after 7 a long time at the club, he left for Swansea in 2018. He used a season in the Championship, just before transferring to Brighton & Hove Albion prior to the 2019/20 season.
That was Brighton’s 3rd season in the Premier League because their 1st-ever promotion. The Seagulls experienced just about survived in the 1st two strategies by taking part in a incredibly direct and defence-oriented brand of football under Chris Houghton. That is the polar reverse of Potter’s favoured model of participate in, so he proceeded to alter the side’s outlook on the pitch.
For context, Brighton’s common possession in the league in Houghton’s very last season was 44.1%, and under Potter, it has usually been earlier mentioned typical. In his 3 total seasons in cost, their possession figures have read through 51.7%, 50.7% and 54.3% chronologically.
Even though Potter was ready to have an speedy influence on the team’s design of engage in, the final results took really a while to adjust. Brighton completed just seven details earlier mentioned the relegation zone in 2019/20, and while their underlying performance actually improved in 2020/21, an xGD (Envisioned Goal Change) underperformance of virtually 20 goals left them in 16th. Their underlying figures a little bit dropped last season, but they ultimately commenced to get favourable outcomes and completed the season in the top fifty percent of the table with a club-record 51 points.
As their xG trendline over the training course of the English manager’s tenure depicts, Brighton have liked their best-ever start to a league season in the final few months, as Potter took the club to the top 4 just before saying his goodbyes. You can, as a result, fully grasp the disappointment among the Brighton followers mainly because they could quite possibly have challenged for European football this season. Now they are left with uncertainty.
Brighton had been really impressive under Potter, in particular when you consider their performances in the context of the methods they experienced relative to the relaxation of the league, but our major concern is how they played.
The clearest characteristic affiliated with Brighton over the previous number of seasons is their tactical adaptability from match to match. Potter has always exhibited his tactical nous and extensive comprehending of the sport by switching up his side’s formations and at instances even fashion of play to go well with certain opponents. It must be no shock, hence, that he has used 11 distinct formations in the Premier League.
Even though that does a great job of displaying his tactical overall flexibility, that also can make finding reliable tactical patterns a great deal tougher. Seeking at regular positions and designs gets a bit of a futile physical exercise, so we are far better off seeking as a substitute for tendencies in their function info.
Comparing their stats to the rest of the league, we get this pizza chart which highlights their attributes as a possession-dominant aspect that was probably not as successful as it must have been in the last third, whilst that is down to their player top quality more than a tactical issue.
Their heatmap from previous season should give us some essential tips about what they preferred to do in possession.
The clearest observation we can make from this is that they favored to construct out from the back again. There is a significant cluster of exercise within the box (which is bloated by defensive steps as well), and it extends to a lesser degree throughout the defensive third. In the opposition 50 %, we can plainly see that Brighton liked to operate out on the wings and strayed absent from the centre of the pitch.
Let us zoom in on these observations a very little additional. On the lookout at their progressive passes heatmap, we can plainly see their tendency to get the ball forward by employing the wings.
Up in the ultimate 3rd, Brighton’s chance development was also focused absent from the middle, generally on both side of the box by means of cut-backs, but also from the wings as we noticed in their workforce design and style chart that they tried the next-most crosses in the league last season.
Their shooting pattern was the just one issue that, luckily, was centred about the middle, as they took some rather very good top quality photographs with an npxG/shot common of .09.
Their crew design chart also showed them as a person of the more proactive defensive sides in the league, which is mirrored by the truth that they had the fifth-lowest PPDA (Passes allowed per defensive action) tally in the league last season at 9.37. Their urgent also usually targeted on forcing the ball out broad prior to squeezing the player in possession, while this a single of the factors that definitely diversified from match to match.
Brighton were being a possession-dominant aspect very last season that targeted a ton of their enjoy on the wings. They did disappoint with their stop-products in the closing third at instances, but as outlined, this is an facet the place player top quality can really make the variation, and it is secure to say that person for person, Brighton have one of the a lot less spectacular squads in the league.
How Chelsea may search under Potter
Due to Potter’s tactical adaptability, it is tricky to be sure of what formation he will use at Chelsea, but we should anticipate the over-all designs found at Brighton to continue on. That usually means his facet will proceed to search to dominate possession, and could very well target primarily on the wings even though heading forward. This is superior news for Chelsea, as they too focused greatly on attacking by the flanks under Tuchel in his preferred 3-4-2-1 formation.
One particular of Potter’s strengths is that he is extremely fantastic at knowing the strengths and weaknesses of every single player, and takes advantage of that understanding to produce a system that will get the best out of the squad. At present, Chelsea’s squad is definitely made to participate in a back again-3 procedure as that was Tuchel’s favoured formation. Wanting at their squad, we see that they have fantastic depth in the centre-back office, their large defenders are better off as wing-backs, they a little absence depth in defensive midfield, but most worryingly, they are definitely shorter on attackers. Potter is utilised to doing work without strikers from his time at Brighton, though, so he should really be ready to make do with what he has for now.
The previous pie chart of the formations used by Potter in the Leading League did exhibit that he much too appeared to lean toward back-three units at Brighton, so he really should be equipped to assemble a powerful technique very quickly.
The only key issue mark encompassing Potter’s transfer to Chelsea is irrespective of whether he will continue on to be in a position to tweak his side’s tactics from sport to activity as he did at Brighton. Just one of the problems in this article is that this type of solution calls for great knowledge and buy-in from all the players, which is less difficult to accomplish at a club like Brighton than at a group of the dimensions of Chelsea. On the other hand, though, it is essential to be aware that a huge portion of the reasoning behind Potter altering his sport plans for different opponents was the simple fact that he was attempting to mask a qualitative weakness amid his gamers, which is not anything he will have to fret so considerably about with the Blues’ star-studded squad.
Chelsea’s signing of Potter is about as confident a bet as a new managerial appointment could be. They are bringing in a extremely smart and demonstrated tactician who is utilised to functioning on a tight finances, so he could perfectly make himself glance even superior with the extensive means at his disposal now. Given a little bit of time and assistance, Potter will definitely provide good results to Stamford Bridge.