Graham Potter says his decision to make a double substitution at the break in 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 as a woeful header from Tyrone Mings allowed Mason Mount to stroke the ball past Emi Martinez, with the player doubling the score – and wrapping the 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 of the clash, with Kepa Arrizabalaga keeping his team ahead with a number of fine saves.
Potter decided to mix things up at the half-time break, taking off both Cucurella and Kai Havertz and replacing them with Kalidou Koulibaly and 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 team needed to tighten up at the back and in midfield.
Asked about the changes he made, 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.
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‘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 Gallagher and Jorginho both introduced to improve Chelsea’s midfield even more.
That pair helped the west London side see out the match in relatively serene fashion – with Gallagher bringing energy and bite – and Potter was thrilled to see his substitutes make positive impacts.
Asked how good it was to see the likes of Jorginho and Gallagher contribute, Potter said: ‘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.’