Chelsea: What issues does Graham Potter have to deal with during the international break?

Graham Potter's first game in charge of Chelsea ended in a 1-1 draw against RB Salzburg

He may have heaped praise on his players, but Graham Potter will already be aware of the issues to be resolved at Chelsea after a disappointing 1-1 draw at Red Bull Salzburg on Wednesday night.

The new boss got his Blues reign off to an encouraging start, with the likes of Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling impressing in a pulsating first half hour that should at least have brought the opening goal.

It was Sterling who finally found it shortly after half-time, firing a neat finish from inside the box to break the deadlock, only for Salzburg to capitalize on a Thiago Silva blunder to equalize with 15 minutes remaining .

Graham Potter’s first game in charge of Chelsea ended in a 1-1 draw against RB Salzburg

The new Blues boss will now be aware of the problems he has to solve at Stamford Bridge

The new Blues boss will now be aware of the problems he has to solve at Stamford Bridge

In the end, Chelsea were forced to settle for a point, leaving them rooted to the bottom of Champions League Group E, and a draw would have been telling for Potter.

While he was quick to praise his new side for “giving it their all” and “attacking well”, the former Brighton boss will know he has a number of issues to work on during the upcoming international break.

Sports mail has taken a look at Potter’s areas of greatest concern at Chelsea after his first game in charge.

Maintain the intensity

From the first whistle on Wednesday night, Chelsea’s increased intensity and speed of play was clear for all to see.

Under most of Potter’s predecessors, the Blues have been unproductive and boring to watch at times, sending fans to sleep with endless side passes without making use of superior possession.

But in the first 30 minutes against Salzburg it was clear that Potter’s side were looking to move the ball forward quickly and aggressively, sending sharp passes to the feet of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Kai Havertz and building attacks from there.

Chelsea had more intensity and moved the ball with more speed in the first 30 minutes

Chelsea had more intensity and moved the ball with more speed in the first 30 minutes

Raheem Sterling was involved in some good attacking interplay early on for Potter's side

Raheem Sterling was involved in some good attacking interplay early on for Potter’s side

They enjoyed complete possession of the ball and were positive when using it. Reece James, Marc Cucurella, Sterling and Mount enjoyed some good interplay at times, and if it wasn’t for the lack of end product – which we’ll get to – the hosts could have gone into half-time two or three goals up.

Towards the end of that first half though, Chelsea dropped their intensity as the game faded into the interval, and that continued at the other end. Sterling’s strike came soon after the break but, from that point on, the Blues fell into a slump and could not have had many complaints when Noah Okafor equalised.

They had allowed the visitors back into the game in the second half, failing to create many clear-cut chances until it was time to roll the dice in search of a late winner.

If Chelsea had attacked with the same pace and precision as they did in the first 30 minutes, Sterling’s opener would probably have been built up.

Instead, Salzburg pounced late on and the west London club had blown another lead. Potter’s predecessor Thomas Tuchel saw his side do the same against Tottenham and Southampton earlier this term, while West Ham were also denied a crucial final draw against them thanks to a controversial decision of the VAR.

One of Potter’s biggest tasks will be to make sure Chelsea keep their focus and control of games to prevent teams from going back in.

But they couldn't keep it up for the full 90 minutes and Salzburg's draw came as no surprise

But they couldn’t keep it up for the full 90 minutes and Salzburg’s draw came as no surprise

Improve the finish

The best way to kill games, obviously, is to put the ball in the back of the net. And for all their dominance of the ball on Wednesday night, it says a lot that Chelsea only managed to do so once in 90 minutes here.

Unfortunately, this is becoming a regular theme for the Blues, who believe they score a goal for every 10 chances they have these days.

Under Tuchel and Frank Lampard, invigorating performances were rarely rewarded with the excess goals they deserved, with a string of inconsistent forwards proving too wasteful in front of goal too often.

And Potter witnessed this lack of end product from his first game in charge. Havertz squandered a great chance to open the scoring by sending a free header into the back of a Salzburg player early on. Mount also dragged an effort wide from the edge of the box.

Even after Okafor had put the Austrian level, substitutes Hakim Ziyech and Armando Broja should have done better with two glorious chances to win it late on.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a chance after five minutes but his volley was wide

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a chance after five minutes but his volley was wide

Potter's men must be more clinical in front of goal if they want to go further in the competition

Potter’s men must be more clinical in front of goal if they want to go further in the competition

The new manager's home debut could have been much simpler

The new manager’s home debut could have been much simpler

The statistics speak for themselves. In Wednesday’s draw, Chelsea registered a total of 17 shots, with only four of them on target and one on target. For a side with ambitions of going to the latter stages of this competition, those numbers are simply not good enough.

Ahead of their next outing against Crystal Palace on October 1, Potter should overload his players with both close and long-range shooting drills to improve their efficiency in the final third.

The Blues manager admitted as much in his post-match interview, saying: “They had a lot of blocks and we didn’t finish well all the time. We have to dust ourselves off. The application was great. We will do better.’

Midfield dilemma

However, Chelsea’s below par second half was not just the result of their own complacency or low intensity. Salzburg manager Matthias Jaissle’s decision to introduce Lucas Gourna-Douath at half-time was an inspired one, as the athletic teenager gave his side some much-needed legs in the middle of the park.

The away side began to frustrate the possession of the likes of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic and overpowered Potter’s midfield, which lacked an anchor to protect Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta at the back.

The introduction of Lucas Gourna-Douath exposed Jorginho's lack of physicality in midfield

The introduction of Lucas Gourna-Douath exposed Jorginho’s lack of physicality in midfield

Chelsea miss the engine of N'Golo Kante and do not have a suitable replacement as an anchor

Chelsea miss the engine of N’Golo Kante and do not have a suitable replacement as an anchor

This was evident during Salzburg’s equaliser, when Gourna-Douath was able to push forward and release Dijon Kameri down the right with ease, before the latter fed Okafor in the box after Silva failed to make a needless slide.

As Gourna-Douath advanced, Jorginho was caught in no-man’s land as he appeared to think of Kameri over his shoulder, but had N’Golo Kante been in the same position, his French compatriot would likely have been shut down and dispossessed

Chelsea do not adjust and fire the presence of Kante in the center of their midfield, especially considering the lack of defensive quality and physicality of Jorginho. The injured star looked back to his best in last month’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham, covering every blade of grass as he usually does and providing the platform for Jorginho to direct his passing game.

Potter can’t do anything recruitment-wise until January with the window now closed, but he must find a solution to the Blues’ midfield dilemma when Kante is unavailable.

Especially when a four-man backline is deployed when out of possession, a defensive-minded midfielder protecting it is essential to prevent similar counter-attacks from stinging them in the future.

Loan signing Denis Zakaria is capable of operating as an anchor, while Trevoh Chalobah could even be used there if needed. However, the limited options at their disposal make the call to send Ethan Ampadu on loan puzzling.

If he is unhappy with the midfielders in his ranks, Potter should consider reverting to Chelsea’s usual 3-4-3 formation to avoid being similarly overwhelmed.

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