Potter wants Chelsea to have strong mentality ahead of City clash
LONDON – Chelsea manager Graham Potter has urged his players to be “competitive” as they travel to Manchester City on Wednesday in the standout fixture of this week’s League Cup third-round ties.
The Blues head into the blockbuster clash following a 1-0 Premier League loss to Arsenal over the weekend, while Pep Guardiola’s City, who are in second and two points behind the Gunners, clinched a last-gasp 2-1 win over Fulham thanks to a Erling Haaland stoppage-time penalty.
Potter knows that on current form, his team are far from being the favourites but wants them to go all out in the League Cup despite another big game against third-placed Newcastle in the Premier League this weekend.
“We have to go to Manchester City and be competitive,” he said. “We’ll do our best and prepare the team. We have to go and try to win, that mentality is important.”
Finishing top of their Champions League group last week was a boost for the Blues after their recent poor run in the Premier League. Potter’s men have dropped to seventh after failing to win any of their last four games, losing their last two.
When asked about Chelsea’s drop-off in form, Potter added: “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect it at some point. I think we’ve had a six week period where we’ve played 13 matches, eight away, it has a toll on everything. Injuries to key players. It’s a process.
“When we got results, I was honest enough to say we needed to improve. We can improve a lot, that’s exciting, that’s the job.”
Chelsea made it all the way to the League Cup final last season before losing to Liverpool on penalties and they had hardly lost in the third round – the last time was in the 2010-11 season when they fell 4-3 to Newcastle.
Squad rotation should be expected from Potter, who will be without Wesley Fofana, Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Kepa Arrizabalaga and N’Golo Kante. Carney Chukwuemeka is also not expected to be back, while Jorginho is a doubt after a foot injury.
In the City camp, Guardiola has had good experiences in the League Cup. It is the Cup competition that he has won the most times with City, but their run of four straight triumphs was ended in 2021 by West Ham United in a shock fourth-round exit.
The eight-time winners have, however, not been knocked out in the third round under the Spaniard. The City boss can also be encouraged by his side winning their last 15 matches at home in all competitions. He has, however, remained tight-lipped on how he plans to approach Wednesday’s clash.
“We have not decided on the squad yet because we have training this afternoon,” he said on Tuesday.
“And we have time until tomorrow to prepare the team to win the game, to do our performance as good as possible. This is the approach.”
Right-back Joao Cancelo is suspended for this game, so 17-year-old Rico Lewis is expected to deputise after impressing with a goal in the 3-1 Champions League win over Sevilla last week.
Kalvin Phillips could feature after recovering from his shoulder issue, but is unlikely to be in the starting 11. Guardiola may also rest Haaland to give the Norwegian more time to recuperate from his ankle problem – the City boss said the striker is “not perfect still” – and Julian Alvarez may once again lead the attack. - AFP, REUTERS