“Advantage Spurs”, “It’s well and truly over”
Chelsea fans are livid with Graham Potter after he made several changes to his starting lineup for a crunch clash with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (February 26). The pressure is growing on the English coach amid the Blues’ poor season under him.
They sit tenth in the league, trailing fourth-placed Spurs by 11 points. A win is vital at their cross-city rivals. However, Potter’s starting XI has been met with criticism from fans. particularly his decision to choose Kalidou Koulibaly in defence over Benoit Badiashile and Wesley Fofana.
The Senegalese defender has struggled at Chelsea since joining from Napoli last summer. He has made 22 appearances across competitions, scoring two goals, but has been in and out of the team.
Koulibaly started and played well in the Blues’ 1-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund on February 15 in the UEFA Champions League last 16. However, he also started his side’s 1-0 loss to Southampton on February 18 and was close to being sent off in the first half.
Badiashile, meanwhile, has looked good since moving to Stamford Bridge from AS Monaco last month. Meanwhile, Fofana has returned from a long-term injury. Both French defenders are viewed as better options than Koulibaly by Blues fans.
Another decision Potter has made that has drawn backlash is his attack. Mykhaylo Mudryk joined Chelsea from Shakhtar Donetsk for £88.8 million last month. The west Londoners beat league leaders Arsenal to his signing. However, the young Ukrainian has struggled for form and will start on the bench.
There’s a feeling that Mudryk’s confidence will be low, as he was apparently promised a regular starting role on joining. Hakim Ziyech starts in attack despite being on the verge of joining Paris Saint-Germain in January.
Kepa Arrizabalaga is chosen in goal, with Reece James, Thiago Silva, Koulibaly and Ben Chilwell in defence. Meanwhile, Enzo Fernandez and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are in midfield. Joao Felix is in an advanced midfield role, while Ziyech joins Kai Havertz and Raheem Sterling in attack.
Chelsea have lost five of their last ten games across competitions. One fan expects it to be six this afternoon:
“Why is he playing Koulibaly over Wes and Benoit is he skunked? Playing ziyech as well Una cba… If this doesn’t work, then it’s well and truly over.”
Meanwhile, Potter’s starting lineup has given Tottenham the advantage, according to another fan:
Here’s how Twitter reacted to Chelsea’s team selection for the vital clash with their London rivals Spurs:
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returns to Chelsea squad against Tottenham
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has fallen out of favour under Potter as speculation grows over his future. He has scored just thrice in 18 games. Reports claim that the striker is expected to leave Stamford Bridge in the summer. A potential return to Barcelona is on the cards.
The Gabonese frontman has not played for Potter’s side since a goalless draw with Liverpool on January 21. He was also cut from the Blues’ 25-man squad for the UEFA Champions League knockout campaign following a slew of new signings.
However, Aubameyang does make the Chelsea bench against Tottenham. If he gets an opportunity, he will look to impress, with his side lacking goals throughout the season.
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