EPL

Emery: Chelsea are progressing under 'amazing' Potter

By Sports Desk March 30, 2023

Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery has backed Graham Potter for long-term success at Chelsea and says there are already signs of progress at Stamford Bridge.

Potter succeeded Tuchel in the Chelsea dugout in early September, but his future was called into question following a run one win in 11 games to begin the year.

However, the former Brighton and Hove Albion boss has slowly turned things around, with Chelsea entering the international break on a run of three wins and a draw.

Villa boss Emery, who lasted 18 months at Arsenal before being sacked in November 2019, believes Potter fully deserves his chance to shine at a big club.

"He did amazing at Brighton and needs time to adapt his ideas at Chelsea," Emery said at Thursday's pre-match press conference. "Progressively, they're doing better and better.

"Tuchel's work was also amazing, but what Potter did with Brighton was really amazing and he deserved to take a step up with a team like Chelsea. 

"They're now progressing. Everything he previously did with Brighton he can do as well with Chelsea. He just needs time.

"They have played well in the Champions League but have not been as consistent in the Premier League. 

"But we know on Saturday we're playing one of the best teams in the Premier League. It's a good challenge for us and this is why I'm in the Premier League."

Villa have taken 10 points from their past 12 available, leaving them level on points with 10th-placed opponents Chelsea, and Emery is now targeting a top-half finish.

"When I arrived we were struggling at the bottom but the first reaction from the club, supporters, players, was amazing," Emery said. "Now we have escaped the bottom positions. 

"Now we can think of our new challenge, which is to be in the top 10. This will start this Saturday. We think we have a good possibility to be there.

"The last four matches we played, scoring seven goals and conceding only one, winning three matches and drawing one, it was a very good moment for us."

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    Milan star Pulisic stole the show with an eye-catching strike into the top corner, and he added an assist for Folarin Balogun as the USA opened their campaign with a 2-0 win on home soil on Sunday.

    Pulisic became only the second USA player after Clint Dempsey to register a goal and an assist in a Copa America match, while he is also now the country's quickest player to reach 30 goals, doing so in his 69th game.

    An inspired performance from the captain also ended a woeful run for the USA against CONMEBOL sides at this tournament, given Gregg Berhalter's side had previously lost eight of 10 such games.

    Pulisic felt that USA could easily have won by a greater margin, with the strong performance making a statement ahead of their next group games against Panama and Uruguay.

    "We should build some confidence from this and feel good," Pulisic said after the game.

    "We came out flying with a lot of intensity and obviously that early goal helped us a lot.

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    Defender Antonee Robinson also felt USA could easily have won by more.

    "If we were being picky, we could have been a lot more clinical," the Fulham player said. "We could have put another two or three goals away, but getting off to a win to start with is massive for us.

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    USA head coach Berhalter was delighted with the impact made by Pulisic, whose opening strike had an expected goals (xG) tally of just 0.037.

    The tournament hosts racked up 20 shots, finding the target with eight, compared to tallies of six and three respectively for Bolivia.

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    "To me, it was an outstanding performance. He got coach's man of the match and it was much deserved.

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    Bolivia, meanwhile, have now lost their last four international outings by a concerning margin of 9-1, having suffered defeats against Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia and USA.

    They face Uruguay, who won their opener 3-1 against Panama, on Thursday.

    USA will play Panama earlier on the same day before concluding their Group C campaign against Uruguay on July 1.

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    Uruguay's win saw them move level on points with hosts the United States following their victory over Bolivia in the other Group C encounter. 

    The 15-time winners were rewarded for their fast start when Maximilian Araujo curled home his first international goal in the 16th minute. 

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    And their wastefulness was punished late on as Darwin Nunez, who had missed several chances in the game, settled Uruguay's nerves with a calm finish. 

    Matias Vina furthered La Celeste's advantage in the first minute of injury-time with a header, only for Michael Amir Murillo to net a late consolation for Panama. 

    However, Bielsa was quick to temper expectations despite the triumph, insisting his side must improve to secure a record 16th Copa America crown. 

    The 68-year-old took charge of Uruguay in May last year, beating both Argentina and Brazil in World Cup qualifiers. 

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    "My expectation is that each match will increasingly help us to improve on our level. Uruguay has players of a very good level and we need to see if I can build with those players."

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    Uruguay's win saw them move level on points with hosts the United States following their victory over Bolivia in the other Group C encounter. 

    The 15-time winners were rewarded for their fast start when Maximilian Araujo curled home his first international goal in the 16th minute. 

    However, Panama would grow into the contest as Jose Fajardo and Jose Rodriguez squandered golden opportunities for Thomas Christiansen's side. 

    And their wastefulness was punished late on as Darwin Nunez, who had missed several chances in the game, settled Uruguay's nerves with a calm finish. 

    Matias Vina furthered La Celeste's advantage in the first minute of injury-time with a header, only for Michael Amir Murillo to net a late consolation for Panama. 

    However, Bielsa was quick to temper expectations despite the triumph, insisting his side must improve to secure a record 16th Copa America crown. 

    The 68-year-old took charge of Uruguay in May last year, beating both Argentina and Brazil in World Cup qualifiers. 

    "When it comes to Uruguay's aspirations, we will see that and build it match by match," he told reporters.

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