Chelsea defeated Bournemouth 2-0 at Stamford Bridge to prove that they are back and winning again.
Kai Havertz and Mason Mount’s first-half goals were the deciding factors in the Blues’ first Premier League victory since mid-October.
Graham Potter had plenty of time to prepare for tonight’s game, and everything went very much according to plan—aside from a worrying Reece James injury scare.
1. Choosing havertz over Aubameyang
Even though Germany didn’t do well at the World Cup, Kai Havertz had a decent tournament, making the decision to start him up front quite obvious.
However, Potter has been working closely with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang over the international break and could have easily chosen to go with the seasoned striker instead.
After waiting a quarter-hour, Potter’s choice paid off as Havertz pounced on Raheem Sterling’s low cross and slid the ball past Cherries goalkeeper Mark Travers to give Chelsea the lead. Mason Mount’s second goal for Chelsea was also assisted by him, but with a straightforward two-yard lay-off.
2. Playing four at the back
Since joining Chelsea, Potter hasn’t exactly been committed to a certain system, but tonight he chose a back four rather than their customary back five.
Although fielding a back five would have been far safer considering the Blues’ previous defensive issues and the mixed results the system has produced this season, Potter was more than willing to take a chance.
With Reece James and Marc Cucurella bursting forward on the overlap, they were able to control the ball and create a ton of attacking overloads thanks to the additional player in the middle of the field.
3. Having faith in Zakaria
Mateo Kovacic has yet to return from his World Cup break, and N’Golo Kante is out injured, so Potter didn’t exactly have many options in the middle of the park.
But it was a wise choice for him to start Denis Zakaria, who hasn’t played much soccer since joining on loan from Juventus on the final day of the transfer window.
The stand-up ovation he received upon being replaced in the second half was well-deserved as the Switzerland international was an imposing physical presence defensively and linked midfield with attacking with many of crisp passes.