Chelsea left playing for Graham Potter’s future as European hopes take a battering

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Graham Potter was booed off the pitch at Stamford Bridge after Chelsea were wasteful display in defeat to Aston Villa.

The 47-year-old is under pressure again after his side dropped to 11th as Unai Emery’s side pushed up to 9th, making the prospect of Chelsea qualifying for any European competition through a league finish increasingly remote.

Now, Chelsea seem to just be playing for their manager and to avoid their lowest league finish since 1996.

Most of the blame is currently falling on Potter’s shoulders after he arrived at a club in transition in September.

You have to, however, feel some sympathy for his plight. He could do little to stop his players from missing a host of clear, simple chances against the Midlands side.

Mykhailo Mudryk missed two one-on-ones in the first half, that simply needed to go in but only highlighted how he is not ready to help his side despite his £88.5million price tag.

Joao Felix and Kai Havertz also missed chances but were more unlucky to see their shots blocked or saved by the exceptional Emiliano Martinez.

Ben Chilwell had the ball in the net after Ollie Watkins lifted his opening goal over Kepa in the 18th minute but the wing back’s effort was harshly ruled out for a push on Ashley Young.

In that regard, Potter was partly unlucky on Saturday night. Even still, the defending from Chelsea left a lot to be desired.

Villa were able to play through Chelsea’s forward pressing players with ease and then bypassed a midfield that’s technically proficient but doesn’t excel defensively.

The back three featured an out of form Kalidou Koulibaly and both Reece James and Marc Cucurella operating slightly out of position as left and right-sided centre backs.

They looked all over the place organisationally and were exposed time and again by long balls that ultimately allowed Watkins to score.

There was little Chelsea could do to stop John McGinn’s long-range strike which resigned the Blues to their first defeat in four matches.

Wasteful: Mudryk was guilty of missing good chances against Villa (Getty Images)
Wasteful: Mudryk was guilty of missing good chances against Villa (Getty Images)

Just as McGinn’s shot flew in, Chelsea had been readying their first two substitutes and were ready to bring back N’Golo Kante.

It was too much to expect the world class midfielder to lift his team after seven months out but he did his level best.

There was talent on the bench but Potter chose to ignore Mason Mount, opting for Conor Gallagher and Christian Pulisic instead.

A defeat like this can happen but, having been so poor throughout the winter period, there’s absolutely no give in the table and Chelsea need to win almost all of their remaining games to challenge for Europe.

To not even compete for Conference League qualification is unthinkable for Chelsea especially after spending over £500million across the last two transfer windows.

It’s hard to imagine that, in this form, Chelsea can beat Real Madrid over two legs in the Champions League, even as they contend with their own indifferent form and injury problems.

Chelsea next welcome Liverpool to Stamford Bridge and, with little to play for in the league, the players will simply need to play for their manager’s future.