Graham Potter faces make-or-break week as Chelsea rely on Joao Felix to spark stuttering attack
It might be now or never, as Graham Potter bids to win over Chelsea supporters.
Potter faces two crunch home games in a week, against Leeds and Borussia Dortmund, that could have a huge bearing on his future. Four of Chelsea’s next five games are at Stamford Bridge, and if their poor form continues in front of their own fans, then an already bad atmosphere could turn totally toxic.
The message from the owners remains one of support for Potter but, if supporters were to turn, there may be no way back. Potter was booed off after Chelsea were beaten 1-0 by Southampton in their previous home game and he desperately needs a win on Saturday in a fixture that has added significance for supporters, given the historic rivalry between the two clubs.
A run of just two wins in 15 Premier League matches has left Chelsea closer to the relegation zone than the top four. Last weekend’s dismal 2-0 defeat at Tottenham intensified the scrutiny on Potter, who admitted after that game that fans have every right to be “upset and angry”.
Victory on Saturday would provide a much-needed lift ahead of the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie against Dortmund on Tuesday. Co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali are both expected to be at Stamford Bridge for the games against Leeds and Dortmund.
Potter hopes this upcoming run of games can be a turning point. He has been forced into a reshuffle at the back, after losing influential defender Thiago Silva to a knee injury, but Chelsea have been boosted by the return to training of N’Golo Kante.
The midfielder is unlikely to feature on Saturday, but his comeback should give the whole club a lift. Scoring a goal against Leeds would be a start, given Chelsea have managed just one in their past six games and four in 1,080 minutes since the World Cup.
It seems unlikely that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be brought back into the starting lineup following his late cameo at Spurs, and the onus could be on Joao Felix to spark their attack.
Leeds lost at Fulham in the FA Cup on Tuesday, but secured their first win since the World Cup when they beat Southampton 1-0 last weekend under new manager Javi Gracia, who has vowed his side will “start very aggressive” at Stamford Bridge. If Chelsea go behind in front of their own fans, it could be an uncomfortable afternoon for Potter.