Graham Potter explains decision to bring Joao Felix off at half-time in Chelsea win over Leicester
Graham Potter has confirmed that his decision to bring Joao Felix off at half-time in Chelsea’s win over Leicester was a tactical one.
The forward, on-loan from Atletico Madrid, had an eventful 45 minutes at the King Power, which began with him being on the receiving end of a nasty challenge from Ricardo Pereira in the opening minutes.
That left Felix requiring treatement on his ankle, but he recovered to hit the post with a dinked effort that had beaten Danny Ward before being denied by VAR after putting the finishing touch on a lovely Chelsea move. Replays showed he was just about offside.
A real threat in attack, the 23-year-old was however at fault for Leicester’s equaliser, as he lost the ball deep in the Chelsea half and Patson Daka pounced to hammer an effort past Kepa Arrizabalaga from just outside the area and cancel out Ben Chilwell’s opener.
Kai Havertz put the visitors in front with the final kick of the first-half, and Felix did not emerge with his team-mates after the break as Conor Gallagher was introduced. Chelsea went on to win 3-1 win, with Mateo Kovacic‘s volley sealing victory.
Potter was asked after the match about the decision to bring Felix off, and whether it was to do with that knock to his ankle or his role in the Leicester goal.
“Tactically I wanted to use an extra midfielder,” Potter said.
“I felt we needed someone who could ball win, a different profile and I thought Conor was fantastic.”
Mykhailo Mudryk was used as a false nine in the first half, as he made his return to the starting lineup with Raheem Sterling out. The big-money January arrival had a quiet 45 minutes, but grew into the match after the break and had the ball in the back of the net.
His wild celebrations distratced him from the fact the offside flag had been raised, with a knee slide and a few fist pumps produced before he eventually looked around.
Putting that disappointment behind him, Mudryk provided the assist for Kovacic’s goal and Potter was full of praise for the winger after the match.
“He’ll get better and better,” the Chelsea boss said.
“He’s a young player that hasn’t that much experience, so each game he’ll get better and better. His attitude is fantastic.”