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What Graham Potter's Chelsea arrival could mean for the futures of Kepa, Pulisic, Ziyech and Lukaku

Nick Emms

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| Last updated 

What Graham Potter's Chelsea arrival could mean for the futures of Kepa, Pulisic, Ziyech and Lukaku

Chelsea have confirmed the arrival of Graham Potter as head coach, replacing Thomas Tuchel after his dismissal.

The 47-year-old arrived on a five-year deal, joining from Brighton and Hove Albion to replace the German.

Tuchel was sacked after a 1-0 loss to Dinamo Mosco on Tuesday night, with the Chelsea owners having already made the decision prior to the defeat.

Potter will arrive and a fresh slate will be handed to those at Stamford Bridge, with several players having fallen out of favour with Tuchel.

Absolute Chelsea have taken a dive into those that could see increased game time and a change to their roles at Stamford Bridge under Potter.

Tuchel managed 100 games for Chelsea before his dismissal. (Alamy)
Tuchel managed 100 games for Chelsea before his dismissal. (Alamy)

Kepa Arrizabalaga

Kepa Arrizabalaga was handed a start against Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday and looked impressive, pulling off a fantastic save in the second half to keep Chelsea in the game. The goal conceded saw the defence at fault more so than the goalkeeper, who came out to make himself big but was unable to prevent a smart finish.

The Spaniard played his best football under Maurizio Sarri, joining on a world-record fee for a goalkeeper from Athletic Bilbao.

The Italian head coach played a possession based game, with Kepa starting attacks from the back.

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Similarities can be drawn with Kepa and his national teammate and competition Robert Sanchez of Brighton.

The Seagulls' shot-stopper was handed his debut by Potter and coached to become one of the best ball-playing number one's in the Premier League.

With Edouard Mendy's poor form costing Chelsea points early in the season, Potter could look to hand Kepa a run of game and see if he can earn his place as the starting goalkeeper at Chelsea, just weeks after deciding to stay put amid interest from elsewhere.

If there is one thing that Kepa thrives in, it's a possession based system with protection, something that Potter will be looking to play at Chelsea.

With arguably better distribution and composure than Mendy, could the Spaniard reclaim his spot as first choice goalkeeper under Potter?

Kepa Arrizabalaga has played once for Chelsea this season. (Alamy)
Kepa Arrizabalaga has played once for Chelsea this season. (Alamy)

Christian Pulisic

It is no secret that Christian Pulisic fell out of favour under Tuchel, in quite bizarre fashion.

The American was often granted a run of games before being left out of the team for weeks at a time, despite sharing a strong relationship with Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund.

The 22-year-old's dad took to social media back in May to reveal his frustration.

He wrote: "The sad thing is he loves this club, teammates, and London.… puts his heart and soul into being a pro. Onwards and upwards my boy… big 6 months ahead."

Christian Pulisic Of Chelsea during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. (Alamy)
Christian Pulisic Of Chelsea during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. (Alamy)

However, Pulisic remained a Chelsea player this summer despite interest from the likes of Manchester United and Newcastle.

He is yet to start this season, with Hakim Ziyech handed a place in the starting XI ahead of him, but his fortunes could be about to change under Potter.

The Englishman is likely to deploy a forward to play off the striker, where Pulisic could thrive.

He has been used in this role for the USMNT in the past and could use his experience to earn his place back in the team.

Alternatively, he could be used behind a front two or even on the left as Potter looks to find the best fit for his system at Chelsea.

The 47-year-old has a degree in Leadership and Emotional Intelligence and maybe all that Pulisic needs is an arm around his shoulder and somebody to trust him and allow the winger to play with freedom.

Ziyech in action against Zagreb. (Image Credit: Alamy)
Ziyech in action against Zagreb. (Image Credit: Alamy)

Hakim Ziyech

Ziyech put in what is undoubtedly his worst performance in a Chelsea shirt against Dinamo Zagreb, being called upon from the bench.

Like Pulisic, Ziyech saw a run of games last campaign and looked very impressive.

However, he was subject to Tuchel's rotation and found himself out of the team for an even longer period than Pulisic, with Tuchel's only explanation being that the Moroccan did not fit into his plans.

With the World Cup coming up at the end of the year and the former Morocco manager who had issues with Ziyech no longer in charge, the 29-year-old could see the change of managers as the perfect opportunity to regain his form and confidence.

Hakim Ziyech at Chelsea's open training session. (Alamy)
Hakim Ziyech at Chelsea's open training session. (Alamy)

While Tuchel was adamant that Ziyech can not play in a system with a back three, Potter may have a different view and see the former Ajax star as a potential key player to unlocking his attack.

The winger could take up a role similar to Solly March at Brighton, or even move centrally to play in a Pascal Gross role under Potter at Chelsea.

Now is the time for Ziyech to show that he can work his way into Potter's plans after failing to secure a transfer away in the summer.

Thomas Tuchel and Romelu Lukaku last season. (Alamy)
Thomas Tuchel and Romelu Lukaku last season. (Alamy)

Romelu Lukaku

The player at Chelsea who was probably the most relieved when Tuchel was dismissed has to be Romelu Lukaku. The forward made it clear in December that he was not a fan of the German's system, and demanded changes.

“Physically I'm fine, even better than before. After two years in Italy, in which I worked a lot at Inter with coaches and nutritionists, I am physically fine,” he told Sky Sport.

“I’m not happy with the situation and that’s only natural. The head coach has decided to play a different system and I mustn’t let up, I need to keep working hard and be professional.

"I’m not happy with the situation but I’m a grafter and I mustn’t let up."

Chelsea have made the change now, just weeks after allowing Lukaku to return to Inter Milan as there was no solution to see Lukaku remain under Tuchel at Stamford Bridge, and he opted to spend a season back in Italy.

Romelu Lukaku of Chelsea celebrates his goal to make it 0-3 against Leeds in May. (Alamy)
Romelu Lukaku of Chelsea celebrates his goal to make it 0-3 against Leeds in May. (Alamy)

The forward does not have a buy option in his loan move at the San Siro, and while he will not feature for Potter this season, the club-record signing could be back for the 2023/24 campaign and provide Potter with an out and out goal scorer.

Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta has hinted in recent days that they will discuss Lukaku's future at the end of the season following Tuchel's dismissal.

He said: “Lukaku’s future to change after Tuchel sack? Too early, we’ll see with Chelsea at the end of season."

Lukaku has previously promised to score goals for Chelsea, stating there was unfinished business at the club.

Could his Chelsea story have another chapter under Potter?

The English coach has worked under restrictions his whole career, and his Brighton side were praised for their free-flowing and attacking football, creating a large number of chances.

The Seagulls had the 5th highest expected goals rate in the Premier League last season, and if he can replicate this at Chelsea, Lukaku's future may still be at Stamford Bridge.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Chelsea, Football, Romelu Lukaku, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, Kepa Arrizabalaga

Nick Emms
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