Chelsea seek cure for away-day blues as Potter reveals new year ambitions

    Graham Potter has told his Chelsea players that there can be no excuse for failure in 2023, even as injuries strike at the heart of their team.

    The head coach will not be barred from Rhys James, Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante and Wesley Fofana, among others, as Chelsea kick off the new year at Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

    Chelsea have lost their last three away matches and last lost four away matches in a row in January and February 2019 under Maurizio Sarri, so this terrible streak needs to be broken immediately. Potter says he’s going through his “toughest” time as a coach.

    The second bottom Forest haven’t hosted Chelsea at the City Ground since February 1999, and Potter is wary of what he expects to be a fierce reception at the River Trent.

    However, the former Brighton & Hove Albion know that any injury grumbling simply won’t go away as Chelsea have a costly team expected to deliver results.

    Potter said: “Our task now is to try to bring back as many people as possible. It was a really difficult period, I would say difficult, as it was when I was a manager, but we are Chelsea and people do not want to hear these reasons, excuses.

    “You need to come to terms with this. And we must do our best to find answers.”

    Forest lost 3-0 to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday, but they won a home win against Liverpool in October and Jurgen Klopp’s side were to blame for missing out on so many chances that day.

    Potter said: “Forest got a fantastic result against Liverpool. I have a lot of respect for Steve Cooper and the work he did there.

    “He is an amazing, fantastic coach. So they will be ready, the atmosphere will be hostile. They returned to the Premier League in their first year for a long, long time.

    “So every game, especially when Chelsea come to town, is a big game for them. So they will be motivated and they will have quality and they will fight for points. So we have to be ready.”

    Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech were absent when Chelsea beat Bournemouth 2-0 on Tuesday, but both have since returned from World Cup appearances.

    Chelsea have beaten Forest in their last seven meetings, the most recent being a 2-0 third round win in the FA Cup in January 2020, while the Blues have only lost once in their last 11 away league matches against teams who received increase (B8 H2). ).

    The two teams have started very contrastingly in recent calendar years, with Forest winning their first league game in each of the last four years, albeit every time in the championship.

    Chelsea, by contrast, have not won a single victory in their first league match in the last six calendar years (D4 L2), and last experienced a longer bleak streak in the first league matches from 1929 to 1938, when they drew four and six losses in 10 games.

    Chelsea saw a devastating change of ownership in 2022 as the club passed from the hands of Roman Abramovich and came under the control of Todd Boly.

    Potter then replaced former head coach Thomas Tuchel in September and it is hoped that the new year will bring both stability and success.

    “We want to keep improving. There’s a simple answer,” Potter said when asked about his New Year’s wishes for the team.

    “We had a difficult [time]some ups and downs compared to last year, which I think is normal for any football club, but we want to try to stabilize and we want to try to improve and make our fans happy.

    “We know that before the break, the last few weeks, we were not very pleased. The results suffered and the performances were not what we wanted them to be. So we have to do better.”

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