Graham Potter says his decision to make a double substitution at half-time of Chelsea ’s 2-0 win over Aston Villa was purely tactically and he was delighted with the impact his changes made.
The Blues took an early lead at Villa Park on Sunday as a woeful header from Tyrone Mings allowed Mason Mount to stroke the ball past Emi Martinez, with the midfielder doubling the score – and wrapping up all three points – with a devilish free-kick in the second half.
Despite the routine scoreline, Chelsea had to soak up a lot of pressure, particularly in the first half, with Kepa Arrizabalaga keeping his side ahead with a string of fine saves.
Potter decided to mix things up at the half-time break, taking off both Marc Cucurella and Kai Havertz and replacing them with Kalidou Koulibaly and Cesar Azpilicueta as he switched to a flat back five.
That was no slight on the performances of Cucurella and Havertz, though, with Potter feeling that the side needed to tighten up at the back and in midfield. Asked about the changes, Potter told ChelseaTV after the game: ‘It was more tactically.
‘I thought we had to probably be a back five, more so, and be a bit stronger in the midfield area so we just had to adjust it. ‘Sometimes [changes] go for you, sometimes they don’t. Credit to the players, they’re all ready to fight, they’re all ready to help the team. ‘So we’re in a good moment at the moment, but we know there’s another game coming.’
Potter made two more changes either side of the hour-mark, with Conor Gallagher and Jorginho both introduced to bolster Chelsea’s midfield even more. That pair helped the west Londoners see out the match in relatively serene fashion – with Gallagher in particular bringing energy and bite – and Potter was thrilled to see his substitutes make some positive impacts.
Asked how good it was to see the likes of Jorginho and Gallagher contribute, Potter replied: ‘Yeah exactly, that’s what we speak about all the time. ‘Everybody wants to start, but sometimes it’s the ones who finish [the game] who are important. As I said, we’ve got another game on Wednesday, they come thick and fast, we need everybody.
‘I’m pleased with the way the group is responding to that challenge, we’re in a good place and it’s important that whoever comes onto the pitch is ready to help the team.’