October 5, 2022

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Winger Raheem Sterling: What does Potter’s plan mean for the Chelsea striker?

The first official Graham Potter game Chelsea It will feel a familiar curiosity to anyone who watches it regularly Brighton side.

There have been elements of Brighton from the past two seasons: dominating but failing to win. And there have been parts of Brighton’s side since the start of this season: the very unusual shape, with Potter’s side defending with three men, but without a proper wing defense to protect the wide spaces.

On paper, Potter’s side can be either a defense quadrant – with Cesar Azpilicueta Partnership Thiago Silva In the center of the defense, the Rhys James And the Mark Cucurella On both sides – or three in the back it houses the azpilicueta, silva and cucurella. It turned out to be the latter, with James pushed forward to become full-back. leave it Raheem SterlingIn theory, as a wing-back on the opposite flank.

But in reality, Sterling was not like the right-back. Take this position, for example, after a throw on the far side. Cucurella is in a position that suggests he is responsible for covering the entire left side of the defense…

…only once Red Bull Salzburg once and for all grabbed the ball from a layup, Sterling came swaying on the inside from a very wide position. Obviously, this is not an appropriate “back-back” – but in the absence of an appropriate term, let’s stick with that for now.

In fact, sometimes I felt like sterling was a bigger part of the front three, combined Kai Havertz And the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Halfway through the first half, he raced back to get a pass from Havertz over the top of the Salzburg defense…

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…and in this position, he looks more like an inner left.

Sterling’s only real defensive contribution was when he rushed back to help drive Salzburg off the touchline, but the most notable feature of this move was how Cucurella exited a center back on the left side, and how Jorginho May retreat to effectively maintain the defense of three players.

The main advantage of Sterling’s game wasn’t really embracing the touchline and dribbling straight ahead but instead waiting in the far corner to collect passes. Ten minutes later, James’ deep cross to the far post …

…his grip was a bit tight on sterling, but he did well to recover…

…and slip the Cucurella on the overlap.

Eight minutes later, it was the same – this time James made it to the sideline…

…and plays a deep cross pass to Sterling in the far corner to drop the ball, trying to make way for the shot.

The next stop came after a great turn from James – and after spotting Sterling alone at the far post, he tried to shoot in a powerful low cross…

…but it was played outside of Sterling and Aubameyang.

Then there was some difference – James returned the ball to Azpilicueta, who offered him a deep …

… Sterling called for his shot towards the goal, with his shot straightened.

But in Chelsea’s first move in the second half, the plan finally worked. this time Mason Mount He ran ahead of James and received the ball while running.

It’s hard to tell if this slightly errant cross, which somehow escaped four midfield players, was in fact meant to hit Sterling. But, from the aforementioned deep intersections in the first half, there seems to be a good chance that was the idea…

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… Sterling took a touch to position himself, then curled perfectly into the far corner. 1-0.

By this point, Chelsea hadn’t had many defensive problems.

Suddenly, though, perhaps when their pressure dropped a bit, Salzburg got into the match. And Chelsea’s defensive form was starting to look a little crazy – that’s basically what he was playing with, something close to the five-man midfield but the wing-back is actually in front of the midfield.

Perhaps this is a completely wrong interpretation of the system, which is actually 3-3-2-2. Either way, in this case, Chelsea are allowing Lucas Journa-Dauth time on the ball in midfield, and are lacking supply in their defensive form.

Gourna-Douath certainly has time to pass the ball to Maurits Kjaergaard. Here, it looks like it’s actually Mount and Mateo Kovacic who have the responsibility to defend wide areas, but Mount is not in a position to stop this lane.

Salzburg easily found space outside the Chelsea defence.

Nine minutes later Chelsea had the ball, and it is worth assessing the positions of the two “wingbacks” – James and Sterling are both high and, in Sterling’s case, surprisingly wide. The other notable player in this image is right-back Azpilicueta on the near side.

And when Chelsea lose possession, neither James nor Sterling can back down and help. Azpilicueta is unable to defend the right of the field. Again, Salzburg gets the guys in the back in the near side, and this case could have worked better.

Two minutes later the goal came. Again, Sterling and James are not in a position to support the defense – they are in the middle of the road – although perhaps they are not supposed to simply support the defense. However, this again means that Chelsea is exposed down one side when a wide centre-back – this time Cucurella – is sucked into the field…

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… And after Silva missed a tackle on the far side and Azpilicueta landed in front of a Noah Okafor move, Salzburg grabbed the equalizer, leaving Chelsea at the bottom of Group E.

I felt the goals stem directly from Chelsea’s style – very high wing-backs (or wingers) in combination with a three-man defense means that Sterling constantly receives deep crosses from outside, but also means that Chelsea simply cannot cover the width of the field at the back.

But that’s clearly what Potter wanted, based on the way Brighton’s side have played this season, and the way Chelsea have positioned themselves throughout this game. It’s too early to make judgments on whether Potter’s style will prove successful at Chelsea, but either way, it’s not likely to be boring.