Graham Potter is on borrowed time as Chelsea manager.
After a 2-0 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, it was suggested that a change in the dugout was imminent. That proved to be premature, but Potter needs to turn things around as quickly as possible.
In some ways he has been dealt a bad hand. Chelsea’s squad is bloated after the club splashed out hundreds of millions of pounds in their first two transfer windows under the ownership of Todd Boehly’s consortium.
Any head coach would have found it tough to juggle so many different pieces, but Potter’s inexperience at the highest level has made that task even more difficult.
The ex-Brighton & Hove Albion boss has not been able to settle on a preferred starting XI. He is presumably feeling pressure to play as many of the new signings as possible, even if they do not fit into his plans.
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Yet while the wider circumstances at Stamford Bridge are tricky, Chelsea should still be doing much better on the field.
They head into Saturday’s game in 10th place in the Premier League, having won just one of their last 11 matches in all competitions. Finishing in the bottom half is now more likely than ending the campaign in the top four.
Boehly continues to insist he is taking a long-term view, but Potter might not be able to survive a third consecutive Premier League defeat.
Chelsea vs Leeds United betting tips
It could be win or bust for Graham Potter on Saturday, as Chelsea attempt to arrest their slide by beating Leeds.
Under 2.5 goals – 10/11 (bet365)
It is no secret what Chelsea’s main weakness is this season.
Given how dismally they have performed for most of the campaign, it is remarkable that the Blues have the third-best defensive record in the Premier League, behind only Newcastle United and Arsenal.
Putting the ball in the back of the net has been a much bigger problem. Only six sides have scored fewer goals than Chelsea.
Since the World Cup, Potter’s team have the joint-second-worst attacking record in the top flight. In their last 564 minutes in all competitions, Chelsea have scored just one goal.
It is an astonishing record given the embarrassment of riches they possess in forward areas: Joao Felix, Raheem Sterling, Kai Havertz, Noni Madueke, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech, Mykhailo Mudryk and more.
With all that in mind, the price available on under 2.5 goals in Saturday’s showdown with Leeds looks like excellent value.
It is a bet that would have paid out in 14 of Chelsea’s last 16 outings across the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.
0-0 at half-time – 2/1 (bet365)
Leeds’ clash with Southampton last weekend was billed as a must-win game, so there was great relief at Elland Road when the final whistle sounded.
Junior Firpo’s goal in the 77th minute brought Leeds all three points in Javi Gracia’s first match at the helm.
As a consequence of that win, the Whites will be outside the relegation zone when they arrive in west London on Saturday.
That is a boost psychologically, even though Gracia will know that there is still a long way to go in his new team’s fight against the drop.
The victory over Southampton has taken some of the pressure off, at least, and anything Leeds pick up this weekend would be seen as a bonus.
Knowing that the home crowd is likely to grow restless if their team is struggling, Leeds will be happy to keep things tight in the first half.
Chelsea have scored a grand total of one goal in their last 10 first halves in all competitions.
Since the start of the season, Stamford Bridge has witnessed five goals in the opening 45 minutes of Premier League games – by far the lowest number in the division.
Draw/Chelsea half-time/full-time – 7/2 (bet365)
Chelsea might already be out of the race for Champions League qualification, but they cannot afford to simply write off the remainder of the season.
For one, they are still in this year’s edition of that competition. Chelsea trail Borussia Dortmund ahead of the last-16 second leg on Tuesday, but a 1-0 aggregate deficit is far from insurmountable.
And while there is an argument that Chelsea would be better served by being absent from the Europa League and the Europa Conference League, the Blues should still be aiming to build some momentum ahead of next season.
Moreover, the next few months provide a valuable opportunity for this new-look squad to gel in a competitive environment.
First and foremost, though, Potter desperately needs to get some wins under his belt to avoid being fired in the same season in which he was hired.
Leeds have only won one away game all campaign, so perhaps Chelsea fans will finally have something to celebrate this weekend.
How to watch Chelsea vs Leeds United
Location: Stamford Bridge, London, England.
Date and time: Saturday 4 March 2023, 3pm.
How to watch: Not being shown live in the UK.
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