Graham Potter’s decision to make a difficult call concerning January transfers, which silenced his doubters, is quite impressive.
At half-time, Chelsea was leading 2-1 against Leicester City, and head coach Graham Potter made a tactical change that ultimately helped secure the Blues’ victory. This win marked Chelsea’s third consecutive win following their triumph against Leicester City on a chilly Saturday afternoon at the King Power Stadium. Though the Foxes were struggling in the relegation zone, they had a chance to put up a fight against the Blues.
Ben Chilwell, the former Leicester left-back, scored a goal against his previous team, highlighting his return to form after enduring injuries over the past few seasons. However, Leicester’s Patson Daka managed to score soon after, causing some Chelsea supporters to worry that the game might take a turn for the worse.
This was the first time Chelsea faced such adversity in their last three games. In their previous victories against Leeds United and Borussia Dortmund, their opponents didn’t score, nor did they threaten the Blues much. To overcome this new challenge, Potter’s team had to play shrewd football and dig in.
Chelsea weathered the initial Leicester storm after the equalizer, and a moment of pure magic from Enzo Fernandez just before half-time found Kai Havertz, who volleyed home, giving the Blues the lead.
The second half saw another goal at the King Power, with Mateo Kovacic smashing the ball past Danny Ward on the volley, securing maximum points for Chelsea. Kovacic’s performance was nothing short of exceptional, playing alongside Fernandez, who, as Potter noted, sees everything around him.
The first half saw Kovacic and Fernandez in a double pivot, with the task of keeping Leicester’s James Maddison quiet. Maddison often floats about, looking for space, which often left a big gap between the two midfielders for Leicester to exploit. Potter addressed this issue at half-time by bringing on an extra midfielder, Conor Gallagher, and taking off an attacker, Joao Felix.
Many had questioned Potter’s decision to make this substitution, but it proved to be the right call, as Gallagher helped Chelsea maintain control of the midfield and see out the game. Potter’s tactical awareness and swift action earned him plaudits, reminding everyone that he is a gifted coach with a clear understanding of the game.
While the double pivot of Enzo and Kovacic is something we’re going to see more of in the future, sometimes it may get overrun, as is the reality of teams playing a three-man midfield coming up against a two-man setup. But Potter’s halftime tweak may have been one of the defining elements of this close-fought game.