With Champions League top spot secured, Potter has eye on Arsenal clash
LONDON – Chelsea fans would probably forgive Graham Potter if the Blues manager decides not to prioritise Wednesday’s Champions League home clash against Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb.
After all, they are already guaranteed to finish top of Group E following last week’s 2-1 win over RB Salzburg. The Blues have 10 points after five games, three ahead of AC Milan, while Salzburg are third on six points and Dinamo are bottom on four.
More crucially, Potter must look towards domestic fixtures as his men have fallen off the top four in the Premier League after three winless games – 0-0 stalemate at Brentford, 1-1 home draw with Manchester United and a 4-1 defeat at his former club Brighton & Hove Albion over the weekend.
Speaking after the Salzburg win, Potter knew that there is much more at stake in the Premier League.
He said: “We’re at home (against Dinamo) at Stamford Bridge and we’ll try our very best.
“We want to win every game we play, that is the mentality we have to have.
“But clearly, we have a game at the weekend (Brighton) and another game the weekend after, so maybe we can rotate a little bit. But we will try our best.”
His task does not get any easier as Chelsea’s next Premier League fixture is at home to league leaders Arsenal this Sunday.
Potter is still unbeaten in Europe and will be seeking to extend that run to five matches on Wednesday – no Chelsea manager since Roberto di Matteo in 2011-12 has gone unbeaten in their first five Champions League games.
But in the Premier League, after a good start since he replaced the sacked Thomas Tuchel in September, Potter saw his run of nine unbeaten games end following the loss to Brighton.
Arsenal are flying high at the moment. The Gunners have lost only once in the Premier League this season and have won 10 of their last 11 games in all competitions since that 3-1 defeat by Manchester United in September.
Chelsea are already 10 points behind Mikel Arteta’s men (31) and Potter will likely look to rest players for the big London clash this weekend.
Wesley Fofana, Reece James and N’Golo Kante are ruled out due to long-term injuries, while Kalidou Koulibaly is a doubt to feature against Dinamo.
The Croats, meanwhile, have been in a bad run of form. They have won just one of their last six games in all competitions.
The team will be without two centre-backs in Josip Sutalo and Bosko Sutalo, making their hopes of getting any result against Chelsea even slimmer.