Merson: Potter needs to learn best Chelsea team – and fast


Sky Sports’ Paul Merson says Graham Potter needs to get to grips with his best Chelsea team in order to instil some consistency in the wake of last weekend’s damaging loss to Premier League front-runners Arsenal.

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Can Potter get Chelsea firing?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Chelsea against Arsenal in the Premier League

He started off steadily, went unbeaten during some tricky games. They were very fortunate against Manchester United – if United had anything about them, they win that game. They got well beat by Arsenal the other day, and I mean well beat. I know the score was only 1-0 but that didn’t do it justice.

He’s getting it wrong. It’s alright sitting at Brighton after you get beat and saying ‘they were a better team than us’. You can’t do that at Chelsea. The fans won’t allow it. To give him his due he changes it quickly but he’s got to start getting it right. You can’t keep going ‘oh 30 minutes have gone, and I’ve got it wrong so I’ll change it’. This has got to be done beforehand.

Chelsea manager Graham Potter during the Premier League match at the Amex Stadium, Brighton.
Image: Chelsea have lost their last two Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 15

He’s got to stop changing the team – I don’t think he knows what his best team is at the moment. When you’ve got a lorry load of top players it becomes more difficult to know what your best team is.

The problem for Potter is that he has such a talented squad, which he’s got to keep happy, but he’s got to get his team right quickly. They were well beat last week. You can’t do that at Chelsea because the fans won’t have it.

Watch the Carabao Cup third round clash between Man City and Chelsea live on Sky Sports from 7.30pm on Wednesday; kick-off 8pm

WC break unhelpful for Arsenal’s title chances

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says his side have made a significant step forward after returning to the top of the table with a 1-0 win at Chelsea

You’ve got to say it’s not going to help them because they’re flying. As we talk today, they are title contenders after the Chelsea result. I thought they were absolutely brilliant. When they have played badly at Leeds and Southampton, they haven’t been beaten. That’s what it’s all about.

You’d have to say it will harm them. It certainly doesn’t help. We know if they kept going at this rate, they’re playing so well. It’s the unknown.

I find it’s the players who are not going away that are the ones who are going to struggle. It’s a long time without football. Alright you can have a couple of friendlies, but it isn’t the same intensity. I don’t have any worries for the players who are going to the World Cup and going to be playing. It’s the norm.

I think it doesn’t help Arsenal generally. I don’t see how the break ends, and they come back exactly how they left off. It’s going to be a hard ask.

Lethargic Liverpool need reset

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool’s win against Tottenham in the Premier League

They’ve looked a tired team. Against Arsenal they faded second half. Against Tottenham they faded second half. That’s not the Liverpool I know. I think the World Cup break might help them – it can’t be any worse for them.

The Spurs result was decent but they don’t look right. It’s the absolute opposite [to Arsenal].

They aren’t going to come back any worse than what they are now. So it will help them.

With Arsenal it’s going to be very difficult to pick it up in the same way.

Brighton a ‘dangerous animal’

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton’s win against Chelsea in the Premier League

Their Achilles heel has always been not scoring enough goals. They play great football from one box to the other. Pass some teams off the pitch, but never score a goal. All of a sudden they’re scoring three or four a game – putting chances away.

I look at Brighton as – if you want to win the Premier League or get in the top four – you’ve got to beat teams like Brighton. Because they will help you along the way by beating one of the other big four teams.

I like Brighton and now they’re putting the ball in the back of the net, they are a dangerous animal. You beat them, that’s a big three points. They will beat some of the big boys. They’ve beaten Chelsea, they go to Liverpool and draw.

There are still some inconsistencies, but you beat Brighton you know they will help you by beating a competitor.

Clubs with no WC players at disadvantage

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James Maddison’s form has lifted him up our World Cup ladder, while injuries have boosted hopes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and left-backs such as Ryan Sessegnon

This is where it hurts teams. I think it’s a disadvantage for players who aren’t going, I really do. Weeks doing pre-season and then playing friendlies – but you’re playing with key players missing from the team because they’re at the World Cup.

People think the other way, but I’d rather my players be at the World Cup so they’re playing, it’s high tempo, they’re involved in big football matches.

You’re going to be playing friendlies against weakened teams who aren’t the standard of the Premier League. I just don’t know how that helps at all.

Arsenal have made the joint fifth-best start in Premier League history after 13 matches
Image: Arsenal have made the joint fifth-best start in Premier League history after 13 matches

Eight of Arsenal’s players have played every game – that’s what Arteta has done. They will play Saturday and Wednesday or Sunday and Thursday. That’s what top drawer players do. I like what Arteta has done.

We can go to a shopping centre tomorrow and ask 100 people to name the Arsenal team and they would be able to name the team. You could stop 100 die-hard Chelsea fans and ask them to name the team for this weekend and I don’t know if anybody would get it right. That’s why Arsenal are where they are.

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