'Worst' pre-season could be factor in Chelsea struggles, says Potter

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Senior Chelsea players have pointed to "the worst pre-season they've had" as a possible reason for their poor form, according to head coach Graham Potter.

The Blues make the short trip to Tottenham on the back of a four-game winless streak in the Premier League, including a home loss to rock-bottom Southampton last week.

For Potter, who succeeded Thomas Tuchel in September, the pressure has continued to build as his side have slipped further down the table.

Ahead of another difficult encounter for his misfiring team, he acknowledged there were no easy answers and discussed conversations he held with some of his players about their preparation for the season before he arrived from Brighton and Hove Albion.

The club visited the United States for three games in July, before playing Serie A side Udinese twice in Italy ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.

"It is really tough," he said. "A few weeks ago, [I said] it is the toughest job of football, and there are reasons for that.

"Speaking to a few of the experienced guys, they said it was the worst pre-season they've had. Organisationally, the tour didn't work as well as they'd like. I wasn't there so I can't say.

"We thought we had made progress, but against Southampton, [it] was below par. The sky can fall. These are inconvenient facts, but that's the situation."

Potter insisted he still has the full backing of owner Todd Boehly and the Chelsea board, and added that he expects and deserves to be under the microscope.

"With results as they are, you accept criticism," he said. "That should come, that is fair. [But] the mood here has always been positive and respectful.

"That is not to say it is easy at all. My family suffers, my mental health suffers. Personally, it is hard. I've been under pressure here for four months."

Captain Cesar Azpilicueta was taken to hospital during the defeat to Southampton after he suffered a concussion, and will not be available for the Spurs clash.

Potter was pleased with his improvement though, adding: "He is as OK as you can be when you've had that. He won't be ready for the weekend, but he's doing well."