Graham Potter offers Chelsea vision of new future in Crystal Palace win but Thomas Tuchel problems remain

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Graham Potter’s first Premier League match in charge of Chelsea offered a vision of a shapeshifting future.

The Blues responded to their new manager’s tactical interventions to overcome a tricky test against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Conor Gallagher proved a ‘super-sub’ against his former club, refusing to celebrate a 25-yard, last-minute winner after such a successful loan spell under Patrick Vieira last season.

His first Chelsea goal in Potter’s maiden league game papered over a few cracks in his team’s performance despite Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s similarly stunning equaliser after Palace had opened the scoring through Odsonne Edouard.

Now handling world-class players at Chelsea, Potter continued to show the values that got him into such a sought-after managerial post.

Graham Potter offered a vision of Chelsea’s future under his leadership at Selhurst Park (Getty Images)
Graham Potter offered a vision of Chelsea’s future under his leadership at Selhurst Park (Getty Images)

He was seen having long discussions in his technical area with both assistants Billy Reid and Bjorn Hamberg to turn his methods into three points.

Those who watched Brighton will have seen the fluid, asymmetric systems used by Potter that leave fans, players and the opposition guessing.

He also leaves people guessing with his body language, rarely reacting to the emotional rollercoaster of top-flight football.

His starting XI could have been any of several formations when he handed in his team sheet, but it was a lop-sided 4-2-2-2 which focused attacks down the right through in-form Raheem Sterling and Reece James, linking up with Kai Havertz. It was also a ploy to expose Wilfried Zaha’s lack of defensive ability.

Unfortunately, defensive errors cost Chelsea with Wesley Fofana’s two mistakes in quick succession leading to the opener.

Chelsea’s midfield was not able to control the game and struggled with the predictably good counter-attacks from their London rivals.

Sterling kept switching sides in the second half, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek brought on in the 55th minute to bring an attacking presence even in deep midfield, replacing the defensively-minded Jorginho.

Patrick Vieira reacted by moving Zaha to the other flank so Jordan Ayew could track James.

With so much quality on the Chelsea bench, Christian Pulisic and Gallagher transformed the game and linked up for the winning goal in the last minute.

Conor Gallagher stunned his former side with a last-gasp winner to give the new boss lift-off (AFP via Getty Images)
Conor Gallagher stunned his former side with a last-gasp winner to give the new boss lift-off (AFP via Getty Images)

It followed a tactical switch to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 that allowed the Blues to play more freely, but the move was a rolling of the dice after Palace created many openings themselves.

In the end, it was important to escape a learning exercise with a win in Potter's first league game. It's a vision for the future of Chelsea under their new boss but there are problems still to iron out after the Thomas Tuchel era.