Graham Potter has revealed why he used Raheem Sterling as an advanced wing-back in Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Salzburg in the Champions League.
The Blues were held to a frustrating stalemate in Potter’s first match since succeeding Thomas Tuchel in the Stamford Bridge dugout.
Chelsea started with a back three formation, with Sterling playing wide as a winger and wing-back, akin to how Potter used Leandro Trossard at Brighton. The former Man City star ended up breaking the deadlock.
Speaking to BT Sport post-match, Potter explained why he decided to play the 27-year-old in a role largely unfamiliar to him.
“Against Salzburg, they block the middle really well, it’s not easy to play through the centre, so we thought we’d use Raheem and Reece in the wide areas, Azpi and Marc to support that. More bodies central in the pitch with Kai, Mason and Mateo. It worked ok but not well enough,” Potter said.
“I thought we got Raheem into one-v-one situations quite often, dangerous situations in the box, they blocked well. The goal was a good result of that.”
While Chelsea were better on the night, they were made to rue missed chances and the lion’s share of possession to Potter’s frustration.
“The way they play it’s not easy to control. I thought we controlled the first half, got into the final third a lot, they made some blocks and a few efforts we didn’t do so well with. This is a Champions League side, you’re not going to open them up so easily, but scored a good goal, a little moment for the goal, but we responded well and made more opportunities,” Potter added.
“We have to dust ourselves down but the attitude from the boys was great, the application was fantastic, the personality as well, we’ll get better.
“It’s always irritating when you concede a goal, but the overall defensive performance was strong, the reactions when we lost the ball were really good, the boys ran hard all the time. The little details we’ll have to improve but it’s not been easy for the boys as well.”