Chelsea seek cure for away-day blues as Potter reveals new year ambitions

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Graham Potter has told his Chelsea players there can be no excuses for failure in 2023 – even as injuries strike at the heart of their squad.

The head coach will be without the sidelined Reece James, Ben Chilwell, N'Golo Kante and Wesley Fofana, among others, as Chelsea begin the new year at Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

Chelsea have lost their last three away games, last losing on four consecutive road trips in January and February 2019 under Maurizio Sarri, so the imperative is to end that dire streak immediately. Potter says he is experiencing his most "challenging" time as a coach.

Second-bottom Forest have not hosted Chelsea at the City Ground since February 1999, and Potter is wary of what he expects to be a fierce welcome by the River Trent.

However, the former Brighton and Hove Albion knows any grumbles about injuries simply will not wash, with Chelsea having an expensively assembled squad that is expected to deliver results.

Potter said: "Our job now is to try and get as many people back as we can. It's been a real tough period, as challenging as it's been I would say, in my time as a coach, but we're Chelsea and people don't want to hear those reasons, excuses.

"You've got to get on with it. And we've got to try your best to find the answers."

Forest were well beaten by Manchester United on Tuesday, going down 3-0 at Old Trafford, but they scored a home win against Liverpool in October, with Jurgen Klopp's team guilty of missing a host of chances that day.

Potter said: "Forest got a fantastic result against Liverpool. I have huge respect for Steve Cooper and the job that he's done there.

"He's tremendous, a fantastic coach. So they'll be ready, the atmosphere will be hostile. They're back in the Premier League for the first year for a long, long time.

"So every game, especially Chelsea coming to town, is a big game for them. So they'll be motivated, and they'll have the quality and they'll be fighting for the points. So we have to be ready."

Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech were absent as Chelsea beat Bournemouth 2-0 on Tuesday, but both have since returned from World Cup duty.

Chelsea have beaten Forest in their last seven meetings, the last of which was a 2-0 FA Cup third-round win in January 2020, and the Blues have only been beaten once in their last 11 away league games against promoted teams (W8 D2).

These two sides have made highly contrasting starts to recent calendar years, with Forest winning their opening league game in each of the past four years, albeit in the Championship each time.

Chelsea, in sharp contrast, have not mustered a win from their first league game in any of the last six calendar years (D4 L2), and last endured a longer bleak run in year-opening league games from 1929 to 1938, when they had four draws and six losses in a 10-game span.

Chelsea's 2022 included a disruptive change of ownership as the club passed out of Roman Abramovich's hands and into the control of Todd Boehly.

Potter then replaced former head coach Thomas Tuchel in September, and there are hopes a new year will bring stability as well as success.

"We want to keep improving. There's a simple answer," Potter said, when asked for his new year wishes for the team.

"We've had a challenging [time], some ups and some downs in terms of the previous year, which is normal, I think, in any football club, but we want to try and stabilise, and we want to try and improve and make our supporters happy.

"We know that before the break, the last few weeks, it wasn't nice for us. Results suffered and performances weren't where we'd like them to be. So we have to do better than that."