Graham Potter’s ruthless streak a welcome sight for Chelsea as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang call sets standard

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was replaced having been brought on himself  (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was replaced having been brought on himself (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Chelsea manager Graham Potter showed the strength of his personality against Manchester City by taking off Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, himself a substitute, for an 18-year old-debutant.

The 33-year-old striker has struggled for minutes under Potter in recent weeks but got his chance after Raheem Sterling was injured in the first couple of minutes of the match.

An anonymous outing saw him touch the ball just once in the opposition’s box and 14 times overall.

Potter has been gentle, mild-mannered and relaxed in the face of poor performances and bad body language but he cracked here, taking off the Gabon international to give Omari Hutchinson his debut.

Aubameyang was furious coming off the pitch, shaking his head in dismay as the substitute was substituted.

There was no hiding place and his manager exposed his performance, opting to prioritise the team’s needs to bring on a deserving youngster.

Hutchinson was not only making his Chelsea debut, as he bid to help his former club Arsenal in the title race, but also his professional debut.

He needed a lot of coaching during the match by Potter and his assistant Bjorn Hamberg, but still looked more threatening than his senior teammate.

It wasn’t only Aubameyang that was taken off, with Marc Cucurella, who was one of those at fault for the goal, brought off for teenager Lewis Hall.

Neither change influenced the result but it was a signal of future standards of what is acceptable and what is not.

Riyad Mahrez’s far post tap-in secured all three points after he latched onto Jack Grealish’s excellent cross. It leaves Chelsea ten points off the top four, 19 behind league leaders Arsenal and in tenth in the Premier League.

Yet, there was something to build on in the performance with Potter’s side responding well to his tactics and decisions for the first time in months.

They were unlucky to lose and the players and supporters reacted well to Potter, who showed his most charismatic and aggressive side yet.

It may take more of that spirit to get Chelsea through an injury crisis and a dismal run of results, and for him to prove his critics wrong.