3 things Graham Potter got wrong as new Chelsea boss draws first game v Salzburg

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Graham Potter was denied a winning start to life as Chelsea boss as Red Bull Salzburg pegged them back to a 1-1 draw in the Champions League.

The new Blues boss looked to be headed for the perfect first match in charge when Raheem Sterling netted shortly after half-time to give the hosts the lead. But they were unable to see out the win, with Salzburg responding through Noah Okafor.

On another night it may have been all three points for Potter, who did get some things right. But there was three aspects he got wrong which meant he had to settle for a point.

READ MORE: Graham Potter's first Chelsea XI raises alarm bells among fans as he axes star signings

Wrong – Picking Azpilicueta over Koulibaly and Fofana

There were many eyebrows raised when Potter's first team was announced. The omission of both Kalidou Kouilably and Wesley Fofana baffled the Chelsea fanbase.

The summer signings, who arrived for £34m and £72m respectively, were brought in to reinforce a defence in major need of it, but neither made the starting XI.

And choosing 33-year-old Cesar Azpilicueta over them was ultimately Potter's downfall, as the veteran was slow to get across for Okafor's equaliser as many had feared he would be.

Wrong – Starting Havertz

Kai Havertz has been a repetitive source of frustration for Chelsea fans and has once again started the season slowly with just one goal in his seven appearances before tonight.

Potter had the chance to offer a fresh start to either Christian Pulisic or Hakim Ziyech in attack, both of whom were linked to the exit door under Tuchel this summer and have been afforded less chances to shine.

But he instead stuck with Havertz, who once again failed to impress. The Germany international struggled to get into the game and misplaced a number of passes.

Wrong – Not seeing out the game with his substitutes

Chelsea were ahead when Potter decided to replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Havertz with Armando Broja and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

There wasn't much reason to make those attacking changes at the time, with the 1-0 lead never enough in any game, let alone on a big European night.

Salzburg went on to level less than 10 minutes later, highlighting Potter's naivety on his Champions League debut.

What would you rate Potter's first game in charge out of 10? Let us know in the comments section.

Right – Playing Sterling at wing-back

When Raheem Sterling left Manchester City to move to Stamford Bridge in the transfer window he almost certainly wasn't doing so to play at wing-back, but that's where he found himself for Potter's debut.

It was a very attacking role on the left, though, which allowed him to flourish and cause the German visitors all sort of problems.

And it was from that position that he scored Chelsea's opener in a fashion which we've seen plenty of times over the years, cutting in on to his right and curling into the far corner.

Right – Dropping Mount deeper

As has been the case for many of the Blues squad, Mason Mount has been a ghost of his usual self so far this season. No goal involvements for a man who registered 29 in all competitions last time out has been a shock.

But Potter appeared to have him playing slightly deeper than he has been against Salzburg in more of a No8 role, à la Frank Lampard.

And that led Mount to putting in his best performance in a long while. He found himself on the edge of the box more often, where many of his goals have been scored from in the past, and set up Sterling's goal.

Right – Playing three at the back

It would have been very easy for Potter to abandon Chelsea's three-at-the-back formation with chairman Todd Boehly seemingly pushing for Tuchel to adopt a 4-3-3 before he was given the chop.

But the Englishman didn't let that phase him and started Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Marc Cucurella in a defence which limited Salzburg to the odd chance here and there.

The width offered by Sterling and Reece James either side allowed Chelsea to move fluidly up the pitch and the shape selection worked a treat.



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  • Chelsea FC
  • Champions League
  • Graham Potter
  • Raheem Sterling

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