on the brink | 

Graham Potter downplays late arrival at press conference as pressure mounts

A converted free-kick from James Ward-Prowse on the stroke of half-time gave Southampton a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge.

Manager Graham Potter understands the criticism Chelsea have received (PA/Zac Goodwin)© Zac Goodwin

Kevin PalmerSunday World

Chelsea manager Graham Potter insisted there as nothing to be read into his late arrival at his press conference as his reign at Stamford Bridge hit a new low with a 1-0 home defeat against Southampton.

A converted free-kick from James Ward-Prowse on the stroke of half-time put the Saints’ captain one goal behind David Beckham in the competition’s all-time standings, and sent Graham Potter’s team to a fourth consecutive winless match in the league.

With five of the club’s eight January signings in the staring XI, Potter saw his team labour to find any invention against a Saints side set up by interim boss Ruben Selles to frustrate the hosts’ expensively assembled attacking cavalry. Victory in their first match since the sacking of Nathan Jones was everything they deserved.

Chelsea have scored just once at home in 2023, and the lack of a recognised striker was made painfully apparent yet again.

Potter failed to arrive for his post-match press conference until well after 6pm, sparking rumours that he was about to be sacked by Chelsea.

But he insisted he is keen to fight on, as he answered media questions after his side were booed off by Blues fans.

"The results aren’t what we want,” he stated.

"You can completely understand the supporters’ frustration. Our job is to keep working and keep trying to improve the team in what is a difficult period for us all.

"The first half was below par from us. Credit to Southampton, they mixed the game up well. For different reasons we weren't at the level we should have been in the first half.

"In the second half our response was really good. You have to put those chances away. The scoreline isn’t good enough for us, we’re disappointed with that. James Ward-Prowse is elite at what he does.

"We got into some really good opportunities and at the level we’re playing at, you have to score them.

"We had that in the week against Dortmund, but the first half was probably a reflection of us returning from the Champions League, the changes we had to make and a lack of fluidity."

Potter’s philosophical reaction to Chelsea’s latest setback will not be well received by the club’s supporters, with the social media reaction increasingly based around the theory that this manager is out of his depth in one of the game’s top jobs.

Chelsea’s misery was completed when Azpilicueta was carried from the field on a stretcher with an oxygen mask after being struck in the head by the boot of Sekou Mara as he attempted to clear.

"He is conscious, he is in hospital,” added Potter. “We are monitoring and are very concerned for him but he is in the best place for him with the hospital.

"It was a horrible incident. I think he was unconscious at one point so it was worrying for everyone. It was accidental but still it was a kick in the face and you can see how bad it was."

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