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Graham Potter odds-on favourite for Chelsea job after Thomas Tuchel's sacking

After a dismal run of form, Chelsea have sacked Thomas Tuchel, with Graham Potter installed as 4/5 favourite to take over.

Original article published 8 September 2022

The Brighton manager has made waves on the south coast, establishing the Seagulls as a steady mid-table Premier League side, playing an attractive, effective brand of football, and the former Ostersund and Swansea boss might be about to get a well-deserved move to a top club.

Former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is 9/4 to make a return to London, with Zinedine Zidane third favourite at 7/1.

bet365’s Steve Freeth said: "If Chelsea are after a long-term coach then the new ownership could be calling Brighton to speak to the well regarded Graham Potter who continues to impress on the south coast and he looks a worthy favourite to replace the departing Thomas Tuchel."

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It’s been clear to see for quite some time that all was not right at Stamford Bridge, going back to Tuchel’s treatment of Romelu Lukaku.

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The big-money striker was brought in from Inter Milan, but utilised in an unfamiliar role which saw him lose form and eventually his place in the team.

It was a far cry from the harmony when Tuchel took over from Frank Lampard in January 2021. The German immediately solidified the defence, with the Blues conceding just two goals across the next 14 fixtures.

They successfully navigated Atletico Madrid, Porto and Real Madrid to set up a clash with Manchester City in the Champions League final, nullifying Pep Guardiola’s side to become two-time champions of Europe.

Throughout that first half-season in charge, Tuchel had steadied the ship and got Chelsea's xGD to a solid 1.0-1.5 – not quite Manchester City and Liverpool’s standard, but certainly better than the rest of the league, with plenty fancying them for the title in his first full campaign in charge.

While results started well, the underlying numbers gradually got worse. A generous run of fixtures saw things pick up significantly on that front, with a three-way title race looking like a real possibility.

After beating Newcastle 3-0 to take 25 points from their opening 10 games, the Blues had gone as short as 2/1 for the title; Edouard Mendy had conceded just three goals in that spell, and people were speculating whether he could even break Petr Cech’s record.

But the wheels came off around Christmas, with the best part of £200m worth of attacking talent in Romelu Lukaku, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner either misfiring or not playing, and the defence suddenly leaking goals.

Chelsea wouldn’t win back-to-back Premier League games in November, December or January, dropping out of the title race.

Their xGD has been steadily trending downwards for some time, and despite injuries in midfield, the side hasn’t been strengthened adequately.

Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante struggle to stay fit for long periods of time, Conor Gallagher has looked something like a square peg in a round hole after an impressive loan spell with Crystal Palace, and the defence has seen wholesale changes over the summer.

Despite taking Chelsea to Wembley three times for two FA Cup finals and an EFL Cup final – losing two of them on penalties – and guiding them to a second European crown, few would disagree that it was time to go.

While Brighton fans will be gutted to see Potter depart, he should receive a warm welcome when he returns to the Amex at the end of October.

There will no doubt be concern regarding his replacement, and it’s hard to see anyone doing as good a job as Potter has, but Brighton are a smart club, who’ve recruited well, and it would be a surprise if they didn’t have a replacement in mind.

Who that will be and how long it will take for that replacement to implement their methods remains to be seen.

By @LiamWilliamsSJ

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