Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Potter expects more from Sterling after ´challenging´ Chelsea start

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 4 Jan 2023

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Graham Potter says Raheem Sterling’s “challenging” start at Chelsea is understandable but he expects the forward to improve as he prepares to face former side Manchester City.

Sterling has come in for criticism since ending a successful and trophy-laden seven-season spell at Man City to join Chelsea in a reported £50million deal ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.

That is despite the England international having scored and assisted more goals (nine) than any team-mate this season in his 21 appearances, while only Mason Mount has created more chances (32 to 28).

He was on the scoresheet in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest, which extended Chelsea’s disappointing run of form to just one win in five either side of the 2022 World Cup.

With plenty of focus on Sterling ahead of Chelsea’s double-header with City in the Premier League and FA Cup third round this week, Potter has called for more from the 28-year-old.

“It’s been a challenge for him, I think. But it’s been a challenging period for everybody,” Potter told reporters. “There has been a lot of change here and a lot of things have happened.

“In that regard, it’s never easy to completely settle and completely hit the ground running. There’s more to come from Raheem, I’m sure, but he gives his best every day. We need to help him get to the level that we know we can get to.”

Sterling scored 91 goals in 225 Premier League appearances for City, who trail leaders Arsenal by eight points with a game in hand, despite the incredible form of striker Erling Haaland.

The Norway international has found the net 27 times in 21 games this season – seven goals more than any other player across Europe’s top five leagues – including seven strikes in his six away league matches.

Rather than focus on Haaland’s obvious strengths, however, Potter is focusing on the damage his Chelsea players can do to City’s defence in Thursday’s match at Stamford Bridge.

“Haaland’s obviously had a fantastic season; the goals there are amazing,” Potter said. “It’s a top team, but we have to think about ourselves, and think about how we can do better.

“We need to think about how we can take steps forward in terms of our game. That’s the approach we’ll have. Playing well ourselves is the key.

“Then you have to understand the quality they have and try to stop it. It does sound simple when I articulate it now but obviously in reality it’s not so straightforward.

“They’re a top team, but we can cause them a problem. We can be ourselves and try to play well and try to put them under pressure. We need to use Stamford Bridge to our advantage and then see what happens.”

City boss Guardiola has lost eight times against Chelsea in all competitions, with that the joint-most defeats suffered against a single opponent in his coaching career alongside Liverpool.

However, Guardiola’s City have won their past three matches against Chelsea without conceding a goal, most recently prevailing 2-0 in November’s EFL Cup third-round tie when the Catalan exchanged words with Potter at full-time.

Asked about that conversation ahead of their latest encounter, Potter said: “It was a general football conversation. He understands the challenges that we have here and he’s faced some similar ones himself.

“It was just a conversation after a game you have with football coaches. It’s nice, I think it’s good. It’s good that managers can speak because it’s complicated when you’re out there.

“There are always emotions, and we’re all fighting for the points, but afterwards it’s nice to be able to speak as human beings and talk about the game.

“I think if you did the research on football, and not just Pep but the people within the game that played against my teams and have watched the work that I’ve done, I think there’s a general level of respect.

“There certainly is from my perspective to him, because he’s fantastic. He’s a fantastic person. But also, what he’s achieved as a footballer and was achieved as a coach is amazing.”

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