Graham Potter has explained why he snubbed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during Chelsea’s 2-1 Premier League loss to Fulham on Thursday night.
Potter explained that keeping Kai Havertz on the field rather than bringing on Aubameyang was a tactical decision.
Former Chelsea forward Willian put Fulham ahead in the first half, but Blues defender Kalidou Koulibaly equalised shortly after the break.
The Blues were then reduced to ten men when Joao Felix, who was making his debut for Chelsea, was sent off for a reckless challenge on Kenny Tete.
Carlos Vinicius scored the game-winning goal for Fulham in the 75th minute.
Potter then made four substitutions with 11 minutes remaining, but Aubameyang remained on the bench.
“We had a back five and felt we should go to a 4-4-1 and keep Kai on because I felt he was leading the line and winning challenges and duels,” Potter said after the game when asked why he didn’t bring on the Gabonese to help Chelsea push for an equaliser.
“We wanted to use Hakim [Ziyech] and Carney [Chukwuemeka] to break from wide and Conor [Gallagher] to break from the centre because you know you’re going to get driven back a bit. So that was the plan.”
Chelsea are now tenth in the Premier League, ten points behind fourth-placed Manchester United, who have a game in hand.
Potter should see Reece James return at the end of the month, while the rest of the club’s attacking options should return in the second half of the season.
The striker should benefit from James’ creativity from wide positions, but his teammates must spot his runs and capitalise on his threat inside the penalty area.
Chelsea’s best finisher is still Aubameyang. But he needs a lot of help to get the most out of him.