Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still has a future at Chelsea despite Graham Potter's "tough" decision on the striker's omission from the Blues' Champions League squad.

Chelsea head coach Potter left Aubameyang out of his 25-man squad for Europe, bringing in new recruits Joao Felix, Enzo Fernandez and Mykhailo Mudryk.

The Gabon international last started for Chelsea in November and has scored just three goals in 18 appearances – in which only 10 of those have been starts – amid a frustrating spell at Stamford Bridge.

But Aubameyang netted both home and away against Milan in the Champions League, starting all six games, with Potter acknowledging the difficulties of naming his squad with Chelsea's depth of riches.

"I don't think it's going to be difficult because Pierre is a professional and of course, I understand he will be disappointed," Potter said.

"It was a tough decision, a tough call. We had three in and two had to go out. He was the one that missed out, he's done nothing wrong at all.

"We wanted to give David [Fofana] some game time today to see where he's at and give him that opportunity. I think you saw that one flash that he's got.

"Pierre is just unfortunate and he will be fighting for his place for the rest of the season. Whichever decision we made there was always going to be a conversation about it but it was my decision.

"It was a tough decision absolutely, sometimes you have to make these calls but it's absolutely nothing bad against him. He's done nothing wrong at all."

An image posted on Instagram by Aubameyang's brother Willy sparked controversy after it appeared the former Arsenal forward was in Italy as Chelsea were held to a goalless draw by Fulham on Friday.

Potter dispelled the speculation over an unexpected absence, though, explaining Aubameyang was free to do what he pleases with a rare chance to take time away.

He added: "He trained today, he trained very well and he's got the weekend off so we can report on Monday. It's a free world."

Graham Potter acknowledged time will be required for his new-look Chelsea to gel but he is "confident" the Blues will qualify for the Champions League.

Chelsea were held to a goalless draw at home to local rivals Fulham on Friday, as the Blues – who offered full debuts to Enzo Fernandez and Mykhailo Mudyrk – lacked fluency at Stamford Bridge.

Potter's side are a long away from top-four chasing form, sitting ninth in the Premier League, but the Chelsea head coach remains optimistic his team will be playing in the Champions League next season.

When asked about a top-four finish, Potter said: "I'm confident with the potential we have. I'm confident with the ability we have within the group.

"What we need to do now is gel the team. That's the challenge, that's what we have to do.

"There's still more football to play, but at the same time I don't want to worry about what we're going to do in four, five months' time. I need to focus on the next day, the training session and the next game."

Argentina World Cup winner Fernandez was signed for a Premier League record £106.8million (€121m) move from Benfica, but largely impressed on his debut just three days after the transfer.

"Very good, considering he's been in the country not very long," Potter said of Fernandez on Sky Sports.

"He doesn't know us, we don't know him so well but I think you can see flashes of his quality and personality. He'll get better and better."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp questioned how Chelsea managed to spend so heavily in January, while Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola echoed a similar sentiment.

Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, Andrey Santos, David Datro Fofana, Joao Felix and Noni Madueke all arrived alongside the record-breaking agreement for Fernandez.

Potter was keen to focus away from just the transfer fees spent by a Todd Boehly-led Blues consortium, as he outlined his next challenge in west London.

"I think you have to look at it all in terms of transfer fees and salaries," Potter said.

"You can sign someone for less of a transfer fee but the salaries are enormous, so it just depends on how you structure the contract, how you structure the deal.

"But we're confident in what we're doing and I think we've done a good job and now my job is to improve the team."

Graham Potter called for patience as he warned it will not be "straightforward" getting a new-look Chelsea side to gel after they were held to a goalless derby draw by Fulham on Friday.

Enzo Fernandez started at Stamford Bridge three days after making a Premier League record £106.8million (€121m) move from Benfica, while Mykhaylo Mudryk was replaced by fellow new boy Noni Madueke at half-time on a frustrating evening for the Blues.

Kai Havertz hit the post in the first half and David Datro Fofana – another of a raft of new Chelsea signings – had an effort cleared off the line by Tim Ream.

Fulham were good value for a point that keeps them above their ninth-placed neighbours in sixth spot.

Chelsea were disjointed, understandably lacking fluency following the arrival of so many new players, and head coach Potter says they will need time to build an understanding.

He told BBC Sport: "There was a lot of excitement and positivity from the start, a good atmosphere. The spirit of the players was really good. They worked hard for each other against an organised team.

"They've been together a while. We're a different stage of that – players coming back from injury and new players. We needed time to settle everything down. We were missing the connection, fluidity and confidence that comes from knowing each other.

"The decision we took in the window, you can see the profile in terms of age. We feel we have a very strong group of players. We have to gel and become a really good team. That's where the work is.

"It's working together. When players have been injured, they have not been on the training pitch. We have new players with us. It's about getting ideas across and working with the group.

"Sometimes you have to look at the whole package. Young players, nice mix of them both. For us, it's about improving.

"New players are adapting to a new country and a new league. It's not straightforward. When the price tag is what it is, questions will be asked, it's the nature of the business."

The return from injury of Reece James and Ben Chilwell was a big plus for Chelsea, while Potter revealed winger Mudryk was withdrawn after struggling with a cold this week.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been dropped from Chelsea's Champions League squad, with head coach Graham Potter bringing in new recruits Joao Felix, Enzo Fernandez and Mykhailo Mudryk.

The dramatic move to ditch striker Aubameyang reflects the striker's declining status with the Blues, for whom he last started a game in November.

Potter warned on Thursday there would be "awkward" conversations ahead as he finalised his group for the remainder of Chelsea's European campaign, and leaving out 33-year-old Aubameyang may have been on his mind at the time.

The former Arsenal and Barcelona frontman has scored only three goals this season in 18 appearances, of which 10 have been starts, and his absence leaves Chelsea without an out-and-out striker.

Aubameyang started in all six of Chelsea's Champions League group games, scoring home and away against Milan.

Potter has instead put his trust in Kai Havertz, who has spent much of his career as an attacking midfielder, plus attackers Joao Felix, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid, and Mudryk, who arrived from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Raheem Sterling, named as a midfielder on Chelsea's squad list, is another front-line option.

Chelsea face Borussia Dortmund at the last-16 stage of the Champions League, with the away leg on February 15 and the home game set for March 7.

Winning that competition looks to be club's best opportunity of getting back into the Champions League for next season, given Chelsea are flagging in 10th place in the Premier League.

Joao Felix and Mudryk have been joined by fellow January signing Fernandez in Potter's squad for Europe, but four players acquired during the mid-season transfer window miss out: Benoit Badiashile, Andrey Santos, David Datro Fofana and Noni Madueke.

Chelsea, like all clubs, were only allowed to add three new names to the squad that contested the group stage, with no more than 25 players allowed.

Another notable inclusion was Hakim Ziyech, the winger who looked set to join Paris Saint-Germain on deadline day, only for the deal to collapse late on.

Jurgen Klopp is confused over how Chelsea's transfer business is possible after the Blues brought in eight January signings.

Chelsea signed World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez from Benfica for a British record transfer fee of £106.8million (€121m) on Tuesday, pushing their January spending past £300m.

That capped a hectic window for Chelsea, who splashed out to sign Mykhaylo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, Andrey Santos, Noni Madueke, David Datro Fofana and Malo Gusto, who will spend the rest of the season on loan at Lyon.

Joao Felix also signed on loan from Atletico Madrid as, with Chelsea sat 10th in the Premier League, co-owner Todd Boehly gave head coach Potter an array of options with which to mount a push for the top four.

In contrast, Klopp's Liverpool, above Chelsea on goal difference in ninth, only brought in one signing, bringing in Cody Gakpo from PSV in January for a reported initial fee of around £37million (€42m).

Klopp is baffled over how Chelsea's spending is allowed in relation to Financial Fair Play regulations, telling reporters: "I don't understand this part of the business about what you can and can't do. It's a big number.

"I don't understand how it's possible with all the things around, but obviously it's not up to me to explain how it works."

When asked for his personal views on Chelsea's record-breaking January dealings, the Liverpool manager joked: "I say nothing without my lawyer."

Despite the eye-watering fees Chelsea have paid out, Klopp feels it could be money well spent with the quality of players they have signed.

"They're all really good players," Klopp said. "From that point of view, congratulations.

"The players they brought in, I didn't think once 'why did they do that?' They will play well together."

This term, Liverpool have failed to hit the high standards they have set since Klopp's arrival at the club in 2015, during which they have won both the Champions League and Premier League.

Liverpool have been hit by injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota, while some players have struggled for form.

One such example is midfielder Fabinho, who has been benched in recent games for 18-year-old Stefan Bajcetic and was fortunate not get sent off for a rash tackle in Liverpool's FA Cup defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion last week.

"He knows he's not flying and that he needs to work back," Klopp said of Fabinho. "That's how it is. 

"It's really helpful we have Stefan. You need a guy who wins challenges but plays football as well. Fab did that for us for plenty of years, absolutely brilliant. Best in the position for a long time and at the moment it's not clicking, that's true as well.

"He's not the happiest person on the planet, but he understands the decision."

Graham Potter warned there will be "awkward conversations" ahead at Chelsea after the signing of Enzo Fernandez capped a staggering spending spree.

The head coach can register just three of the seven new recruits for his Champions League squad, ahead of the last-16 tie against Borussia Dortmund, while even in the Premier League it will be difficult to keep players happy.

Chelsea have stars coming back from injury, to add to the sudden influx of fresh blood, and the onus is on Potter to shape a team that can win consistently after a stuttering start to his Blues career.

Owner Todd Boehly brought in Fernandez from Benfica on deadline day, with the World Cup winner joining the long list of arrivals at Stamford Bridge, after Chelsea also acquired Mykhaylo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, Andrey Santos, David Datro Fofana, Joao Felix and Noni Madueke.

Potter described Argentine midfielder Fernandez as "a fantastic player" and "an impressive young man", adding: "I'm excited by the second part of the season we have here, happy the transfer window's closed, and we can move forward and work with the players."

Chelsea had to inform UEFA by the end of Thursday about their squad choices for the Champions League knockout stage, and Potter said some players would inevitably be disappointed to miss out.

Loanee Joao Felix, fresh from arriving from Atletico Madrid, was described by Potter as being "in contention", but the coach would not commit any further on his choices.

"Of course, there's going to be a few awkward questions, that's the reality of where we are," Potter said. "A few awkward conversations because only 11 can play and only a certain amount can be in squads, so there's always going to be ones that are disappointed.

"It's about being as honest and open and transparent as you can and create an environment where you respect that people want to play, and respect the fact that players want to compete and help the team, but they have to be patient and make sure they're ready to play and perform and help us win."

Potter's Chelsea sit 10th in the Premier League, already 10 points behind fourth-placed Manchester United with 18 games left to play.

Their hopes of a top-four Premier League finish look bleak, but Potter will be expected to send Chelsea shooting up the table now he has ample resources.

"Everybody that's been in this room in the last four months, the word we've always spoken about is pressure, so that's not going to change," Potter said, speaking at Chelsea's press conference ahead of Friday's game against Fulham.

"Clearly, if you spend money, the external noise goes up. I understand that. Spending money is one thing, but you need to be able to align them, make the right decisions and provide a culture, a team, an environment.

"It's not the amount you spend on its own that gets success, it's more than that.

"Challenge is the right word, but I'm certainly not complaining about it. It's exciting. It's a test for me and the staff, but it's an exciting one.

"We've got a lot of really good players and we have to create an environment where there's healthy competition and they can push each other and understand there'll be frustration at times."

Potter says Chelsea have "tried to build something for the now and for the future", and he said he was "calm, calm" on deadline day as club officials negotiated to complete the Fernandez deal.

"I'm very, very pleased because we've got a fantastic player, and I'm looking forward to working with him," Potter said. "I spoke to him. My Spanish isn't great and his English isn't great, so we needed a translator, but we'll get there."

Hakim Ziyech's move to Paris Saint-Germain collapsed late on Tuesday, meaning he will stay with Chelsea, and Potter said the former Ajax winger would be "an important player for the rest of the season".

Liverpool and Chelsea failed to find a cure for their January blues as the out-of-form giants played out a goalless draw in Saturday's headline Premier League clash at Anfield.

While Graham Potter's visitors went close through £89million signing Mykhaylo Mudryk, the contest offered a stark reminder of why both teams are marooned in mid-table, though there was plenty of intrigue to be found elsewhere. 

While Champions League-chasing Newcastle United failed to make further inroads in a stalemate of their own at Crystal Palace, it was a day of contrasting fortunes at the bottom.

West Ham clinched a huge win over Everton as Leicester City were pegged back by Brighton and Hove Albion, leaving both Frank Lampard and Brendan Rodgers under severe pressure.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the most interesting facts to emerge from Saturday's Premier League action.

Liverpool 0-0 Chelsea: Reds and Blues fire another blank 

Fans of Liverpool and Chelsea have become accustomed to goalless draws when their sides meet. Saturday's game represented the third consecutive fixture between the teams to finish 0-0.

Liverpool have only recorded a longer such run against an opponent once in their history, playing out four successive 0-0 draws with Everton in 1974 and 1975. Chelsea have never done so.

Jurgen Klopp would have been hoping to see Cody Gakpo hit the ground running when he arrived from PSV earlier this month, but the Netherlands international disappointed once again at Anfield – since his Reds debut on January 7, no Premier League player has had more shots without scoring in all competitions than Gakpo's 12.

While Potter has now overseen 16 goalless draws since making his Premier League bow in the 2019-20 season, at least twice as many as any other manager in that time, Klopp was left to curse the identity of Liverpool's opponents on a landmark occasion.

The German has now completed 1,000 games as a manager – 411 with Liverpool, 319 with Borussia Dortmund and 270 with Mainz. However, 10 of his 20 career meetings with Chelsea have been drawn, more than against any other side.

Leicester City 2-2 Brighton and Hove Albion: Foxes denied by in-form Ferguson

At the King Power Stadium, Leicester looked to be on course for a crucial victory when goals from Marc Albrighton and Harvey Barnes put them on top following Kaoru Mitoma's stunning opener.

Barnes has scored more Premier League goals (seven) in 18 appearances this season than he did in 32 games last term (six), but the winger was to be outdone at the death as Evan Ferguson headed a late leveller for Brighton.

With three goals and two assists in his five Premier League appearances, Ferguson is averaging a goal involvement every 40 minutes in the competition – the best ratio among players to have played at least 90 minutes this term. 

The result leaves Leicester boss Rodgers facing mounting pressure, with the Foxes winless in their last five league games (W1, D4) after winning five of their previous eight.

West Ham 2-0 Everton: Bowen at the double as Lampard's woes deepen

At the London Stadium, West Ham struck a huge blow in the battle to avoid the drop, ending a run of seven league matches without a win (D1, L6) as Jarrod Bowen's brace sunk Everton.

The England international was on hand for two close-range finishes before the interval as the Hammers escaped the relegation zone. With 21 goals at the venue, Bowen is now level with Michail Antonio as the joint-top scorer at the London Stadium.

Everton, however, are in crisis mode after collecting just 15 points from their first 20 games of the season. Accounting for three points per win across all seasons, this is the Toffees' worst return at this point of a campaign in their history.

Their run of eight league games without a win (D2, L6) is the longest of Lampard's managerial career, casting further doubt on his future at Goodison Park.

Crystal Palace 0-0 Newcastle United: Magpies showcase solidity at Selhurst Park

Newcastle's failure to make the breakthrough against Crystal Palace will not have pleased Eddie Howe, but a sixth consecutive Premier League clean sheet demonstrated the solid streak which has put them in top-four contention.

The Magpies' run of six successive shutouts is the longest managed by a Premier League side under an English manager since Steve McClaren's Middlesbrough went seven games without conceding in the 2003-04 campaign.

Meanwhile, Newcastle's sequence of 15 games without defeat in the Premier League (W9, D6) is now the longest in their top-flight history.

Having also drawn 0-0 in the return fixture at St James' Park in September, Palace and Newcastle have attempted 64 shots between them without scoring in their two Premier League meetings this term – the most of any two sides in a single season on record (since 2003-04).

Graham Potter said it was a "positive day" despite being denied a win as struggling giants Liverpool and Chelsea played out a 0-0 draw at Anfield.

The Chelsea head coach has seen his team win just two of their last 10 games (D2 L6) but was happy enough with the result, despite it seeing them remain in 10th place in the Premier League.

Kai Havertz was denied a goal in just the third minute after a VAR check found him to be offside in an otherwise fairly eventless game on Saturday.

"I thought the performance was good," Potter told BT Sport after the stalemate. "I was happy with the team, the energy, what we tried to do. At Anfield, it is always tough. It's a clean sheet and a point [and] we move forward.

"First half, we were decent, unlucky not to get the goal. It is what it is. They started the second half well, and we adjusted a couple of things and gained control, had a couple of chances. Overall, a positive day, apart from the fact we wanted three points."

At his post-match press conference, Potter was asked about Mykhaylo Mudryk, who made his debut off the bench and went close to scoring a couple of times.

"He's not played since November. He hasn't had any game time. It would've been a risk. He'll get better the more he is with us," the former Brighton and Hove Albion head coach said as he explained why the big-money arrival from Shakhtar Donetsk did not start.

Potter added regarding Mudryk and another new arrival, on-loan Joao Felix, who was suspended following his debut red card at Fulham: "They're top players. Sometimes people think us coaches turn top players into top players. But Mudryk, Joao, they understand the game. It's just fine-turning it a bit."

Chelsea are now without a win in their last six Premier League away games on the road (D3 L3), their longest run in the competition since September to December 2015 (D3 L4).

Mason Mount – who has been linked with a move to Liverpool at the end of the season – was also of the opinion that it was a good point for Chelsea.

"You know this is going to be a tough place to come," he told BT Sport. "Overall, we controlled a lot of it. We could have taken our chances.

"It has been tough lately, we want to win games. I feel like it is getting better and we worked hard today.

"We'll definitely take this today. The final passes weren't there – if it was maybe we would have scored a few in the first half, but as I said, this is a tough place to come.

"They press you and force mistakes, like [they did in] the second half, and I think we came through that."

Jurgen Klopp's 1,000th match in management; the English top flight's 50,000th fixture – Chelsea's trip to Liverpool on Saturday wasn't short of milestones, intrigue or importance.

But there was certainly no surplus of quality at Anfield as two teams who've been feeling sorry for themselves for most of the season failed to produce the spark that could reignite their thoroughly underwhelming campaigns.

Graham Potter's men left with a 0-0 draw that Chelsea might ultimately be relatively happy with, but generally speaking it was a match devoid of brilliance, and by extension an indictment of two teams who should be faring far, far better.

It bears remembering that, in fairness, Liverpool and Chelsea played out draws in seven of their previous 17 Premier League meetings – but such tightness has also led to numerous classics down the years, helping stoke something of a competitive rivalry between the two.

Recent Premier League title winners, recent Champions League titlists – even with their respective injury woes and general struggles, surely this was still going to be a thriller?

There probably wasn't a more inappropriate description of the first half, a dour 45 minutes of football barely punctuated by any hints of ingenuity or quality.

Chelsea could argue they were the brighter of the teams. Kai Havertz had an early goal disallowed; Lewis Hall flashed a left-footed effort across the six-yard box; Benoit Badiashile headed at Alisson from close range.

But it was hardly sustained pressure, and you could make a case for all three incidents being caused more by poor Liverpool defending than attacking brilliance from Chelsea.

Of course, it cannot be overstated how many important players were absent for both teams – it's no fluke they began the weekend ninth and 10th in the league.

But even with the likes of Hall and Stefan Bajcetic starting, it wasn't as if either side resembled a creche. The starting XIs cost over £200million. Each.

Not even Mohamed Salah – a genuine superstar – could bring the desired quality, skying one attempt as he cut inside and onto his left foot. You know the one, the type of chance you'd almost expect him to finish last season... or any past campaign in Liverpool red.

A fairly tame Thiago Alcantara effort was Liverpool's first shot on target in the 39th minute.

There was undoubtedly a sense of Jurgen Klopp "getting into" – as Reds great Steven Gerrard put it during his punditry – Liverpool at half-time, as they began the second half on the front foot.

Within seconds of the restart, Ibrahima Konate surged forward and seemingly panicked with little else on. His toe-poke from about 50 yards almost crept into the top-left corner in an incident that seemed to sum up everything about the game until that point.

But Liverpool's intensity didn't last, their dip seemingly coinciding with the introduction of Mykhaylo Mudryk, who gave Chelsea a notable lift.

His first touch was heavy. Cue ironic cheers from the home fans.

But his next will have had the Kop staring wide-eyed in terror.

Conor Gallagher was tripped in the box and Mudryk pounced, remarkably dancing past three Liverpool defenders before drilling left-footed into the side-netting.

Relief was the expression written all over the Reds' defence – although only for a moment. Soon after he left James Milner for dead, luring the makeshift right-back into a lunge that brought a booking and his subsequent substitution for Trent Alexander-Arnold, deemed not fit enough to start.

Suddenly Chelsea were looking to Mudryk in virtually every attack. Two devilish Hakim Ziyech crosses sought him out at the back post – the first was met with a heavy touch, the second slightly too strong for him to divert goalwards.

The Ukrainian was also neat with his link-up play, delicately releasing Carney Chukwuemeka into the box twice with well-weighted passes, only for the youngster to stumble on the first occasion and then needlessly delay his shot for the second.

Mudryk wasn't enough to inspire a breakthrough, though. In fact, the game probably didn't deserve a goal, and you certainly couldn't say either team were particularly unfortunate not to win.

While Mudryk's cameo will have undoubtedly offered Chelsea some encouragement, the overriding conclusion from such an underwhelming contest was that both extremely expensively assembled teams still look like they could do with another £200m of investment.

Graham Potter confirmed Mykhaylo Mudryk is likely to make his Chelsea debut in Saturday's Premier League clash with Liverpool.

The Blues splashed a reported £89million (€100m) to secure his services from Shakhtar Donetsk, beating London rivals Arsenal in the hunt for the Ukraine international.

Questions have been asked as to how Potter will fit Mudryk into a top-heavy squad at Stamford Bridge, where he joins the likes of Kai Havertz, Joao Felix, Christian Pulisic, Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

While that remains to be seen, Chelsea fans will have their first glimpse of Mudryk in action at Anfield as Potter confirmed he is set for his debut.

"He is a young and exciting player. We have to help him adapt to us and the Premier League. He hasn't played so much football recently but has been training well, so we will have to assess him," Potter said.

"There's a chance [he could make his debut]. There is probably a role for him at some stage in the game.

"We've got to help him and everybody [must] understand that he is coming from a different country and league and has to adapt.

"He is a young player who has a lot of potential and at the same time he has had good experiences already and he is an exciting player.

"He's trained very well and is very happy to be here. He is looking forward to his career here and is excited to get started."

Chelsea's work in the transfer market is seemingly not yet complete, with PSV winger Noni Madueke closing in on a move to west London, while Brighton and Hove Albion reportedly rejected a £55m bid from the Blues for midfielder Moises Caicedo.

Although it may seem there is no end in sight for Chelsea's spending under Todd Boehly, Potter does not anticipate an influx of new additions at the backend of the mid-season transfer window.

"I don't think there'll be too many to be honest. I've no complaints about the squad. January is very complex. You might want A, B and C, but they are not available in terms of positional need," he added.

"You are always looking to strengthen your squad and we have done that. When players come back, we have an exciting squad of players.

"You've got to analyse the squad and analyse where it's at. Sometimes it is adding and sometimes it's moving out players. That is on a case-by-case basis and we'll look at it as and when."

Graham Potter is confident Chelsea have turned a corner ahead of Saturday's crucial Premier League clash against Liverpool.

The Blues travel to Anfield to face Jurgen Klopp's side, also recently out of form, with both clubs hovering in mid-table and facing a tall order to secure a top-four finish and Champions League football.

Victory against Crystal Palace last Sunday brought an end to a three-game losing streak across all competitions for Chelsea and represented only their second Premier League win since mid-October.

The club have continued to spend heavily in the transfer market in a bid to improve their position and head coach Potter feels better times are on the horizon, though they need to make an impression on their trip to Merseyside.

"The win has been important for us, but it's just a win. We have to go to Liverpool next and back it up," Potter said.

"I'm confident, but I respect Liverpool and Anfield. It's a tough place to go at any point, a fantastic football club. Jurgen [Klopp] is a top manager and [they are] a top team, but we've come through a tough spell.

"Players are coming back, new players are arriving. There is a buzz at the training ground."

With the Blues having suffered an early exit from the FA Cup, Potter will have a fortnight after the Liverpool game to work with his squad ahead of their next fixture against Fulham, which he feels can make a big difference.

"We have two weeks, it's an important period for us when you consider we have new faces and players coming back from injury," Potter said. "It's an important period. We'll use the time as best as we can."

Jurgen Klopp has advised Graham Potter to shut out the noise of his critics, as the Liverpool manager prepares to face Chelsea in his 1,000th game.

The German will reach four figures in his coaching career when his under-fire side face their fellow struggling heavyweights at Anfield on Saturday.

Klopp has largely weathered criticism of a difficult season with the Reds due to past successes, but Potter is struggling to keep fans onside after succeeding Thomas Tuchel at Stamford Bridge.

In reflecting on his own lengthy career, though, the Liverpool boss offered his opposite number advice about ignoring those not in the know, particularly on social media.

"Twenty-two years ago, when I became a manager, nobody had smartphones," he said. "There was much less [instant] information. I watched games on a video recorder.

"If you wanted to hear what the outside world thought, you had to ask somebody or read a newspaper. It was easy [to avoid].

"I'm interested in criticism, I'm interested in people who really care. But I'm sorry to say, from all of you, I couldn't care less. Why should I be concerned about what you say?

"[With] social media, all these people without any kind of knowledge [are allowed to sound off]. When I was [starting out], people had to write a letter to the newspaper.

"I really think the best advice [I can give] is to ignore the outside world. They have no clue about your situation."

On reaching his 1,000th game, Klopp acknowledged he feels lucky to hit the milestone, paying tribute to Liverpool and former clubs Mainz and Borussia Dortmund.

"I never thought about these kinds of numbers," he added. "I never would have thought I would be allowed to do [this] for that long.

"I've obviously had three fantastic clubs that gave me the opportunity to do the job. When you come in somewhere, you never know how it will go. I was really lucky."

Klopp also confirmed Darwin Nunez would be available for the match with Chelsea after his absence against Brighton and Wolves, simply telling reporters when asked: "Yes."

Half a season is a long time in football.

At the end of the 2021-22 campaign, Liverpool had come within a whisker of becoming the first English team in history to win the EFL Cup, FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League in a single campaign.

Chelsea had reached two domestic finals, losing on penalties to Liverpool on both occasions, and finished third in the Premier League after initially threatening a title charge with their early season form.

As the two prepare to meet at Anfield on Saturday, they do so in very different places from then, sitting ninth and 10th in the league table respectively.

They both managed to win their last games 1-0, but there is a long way to go if they are to get back to where they expect to be, and Stats Perform has taken a look at where it may have gone wrong for the two stumbling giants.

Reds struggling to step up to the challenge

It has been a particularly harsh slide for Liverpool, who for the second time in recent seasons were denied the league title by Manchester City in May despite earning over 90 points, while an inspired performance from Thibaut Courtois stopped them in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.

The inevitable disappointment from those two blows has been suggested as one of the reasons why they have accumulated just 28 points from 18 Premier League games, having already lost three times as many as they did in their entire league campaign last season (6-2), and conceding just one fewer goal in less than half the games (25-26).

A lack of turnover in his previously trusted players has been another factor blamed for what has been a tired looking season from the Reds, and tired performances are understandably a significant problem for a team that thrived by overwhelming the opposition with their energy and high pressing.

Liverpool simply aren't executing as many high turnovers, averaging 9.4 per 90 this season, the fourth-most in the league, down from 11.7 last season when they produced comfortably the most (Man City second with 9.9 per 90).

One of the criticisms Klopp has been willing to make publicly of his team in recent games has been their struggle to win challenges, and he wasn't wrong as Liverpool have the worst record in the Premier League for duel success this season (47.4 per cent).

This could go some way to explaining why the number of big chances against them – defined by Opta as a situation from which a player should reasonably be expected to score – has exploded, having already allowed 54 in just 18 games, one more than the whole of last season, and 13 more than their total from the 2018-19 campaign when the team was entering its peak.

Compounding the problem, their ability to put away their own big chances has also fallen off a cliff, having led the league with a 55.3 per cent conversion rate last season.

Despite only Man City (67) creating more big chances than Liverpool's 60 this season, only Leicester City (25.8 per cent) have a worse conversion rate than their 26.7 per cent, less than half what it was last season.

The sale of Sadio Mane could be a factor given the Senegalese forward scored 14 of his 27 big chances in the league last season (51.8 per cent), while his primary replacement Darwin Nunez has only taken four of his 19 so far (21.1).

Things should settle if Nunez and new arrival Cody Gakpo can get close to their previous numbers. The Uruguayan put away 21 of his 35 in the Primeira Liga for Benfica last season, with his 60 per cent success rate the fourth-highest of players in Europe's top 10 leagues (min. 20 big chances), while Gakpo scored five of his 10 big chances for PSV in the Eredivisie before his move this season.

Blues in limbo after period of change

If the lack of squad replenishment is one of the main issues at Liverpool, it could be argued quite the opposite is true of Chelsea since their ownership change last May.

The £88.5million purchase of Mykhaylo Mudryk took the club's overall spending to £372.7m since then (according to Transfermarkt), with 13 new players coming in.

All that on top of swapping the head coach in September, with Thomas Tuchel replaced by the much-heralded Graham Potter, who had never coached a club of Chelsea's standing before.

While many put this down to same old Chelsea, changing their man in the dugout at the first sign of any trouble, it felt more like a statement of intent from Todd Boehly and co, wanting to put in place a long-term strategy with a progressive coach like Potter at the helm.

Despite a solid enough start, going unbeaten in his first nine games (W6, D3), a 4-1 humbling at former club Brighton and Hove Albion signalled the start of a prolonged wobble that has seen them lose another seven of their 11 games since. 

Potter managed to turn the Seagulls into one of the most attractive and fluent teams in the league, with one particular stand-out metric being their high turnovers.

Between the start of the 2021-22 season and leaving for Chelsea last September, only Liverpool (11.4) and Man City (9.9) averaged more high turnovers per game than Brighton (9.8) in the Premier League.

During the same period, Chelsea averaged 8.2 per game, which has gone up to 8.9 under Potter, showing there is still a way to go before his new team will be fully able to implement his style of football.

There has also been a significant struggle to score goals, having only managed 22 at the halfway point of the league campaign – four fewer than Leeds United and Leicester City – after scoring 76 last season.

It is an interesting situation considering Brighton managed just 42 goals last season, with only Wolves and the three relegated teams scoring fewer, and many pointed to the fact Potter never really had an orthodox and accomplished striker to call on.

However, at Chelsea he has had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who may not be what he once was but still scored 13 goals in 23 games for Barcelona last season. The Gabon international has found the net just three times in 16 outings for the Blues, and once in 10 games in the Premier League.

There is also the revolving door of players in and out of the side due primarily to injuries and Potter trying to ascertain his best team, making 60 changes to his starting XI already since his arrival, 21 more than any other manager in the league in that time.

With the talent and resources available to both Klopp and Potter, it would be safe to assume that this is probably just a bad patch for them and before long, the familiar figures of the Reds and the Blues will be back challenging the top four.

There are certainly issues to iron out for both though, and what better way to start than by adding further misery to the other at Anfield on Saturday?

Graham Potter believes Chelsea fans are in for a treat with Mykhaylo Mudryk's direct approach.

The Blues announced the signing of Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk during the first half of their 1-0 Premier League win over Crystal Palace on Sunday, and paraded the Ukraine international at Stamford Bridge during half-time.

That victory came courtesy of Kai Havertz's second-half header and ended a run of three straight defeats across all competitions for the Blues. 

Mudryk had looked set to join Premier League rivals Arsenal, but Chelsea swooped in to secure his signature, reportedly paying £89million (€100m) to sign the 22-year-old.

Potter is confident he will be a hit with Chelsea's supporters, telling reporters: "You're never surprised in the transfer window. Things happen when you don't expect them to happen.

"He's a player with a big future, one versus one he's very direct, and he attacks the backline. I think our supporters will really like him."

Eyebrows have been raised at Chelsea's decision to hand the 22-year-old an eight-and-a-half-year contract, but Potter sees no problem.

"I'm the head coach and as you know, I've had enough to worry about and what is right for the club," he added. "If I'm here for the length of his contract, I'll be happy."

Mudryk is Chelsea's fifth signing of a busy January transfer window, and one of those additions made their debut against Palace, with Benoit Badiashile, signed from Monaco, featuring in defence.

The 21-year-old impressed, making a game-high nine clearances and playing more successful passes (71) than anyone on the pitch.

"I thought Benoit did well, really well," Potter added.

"It was a good game for him. [Kalidou] Koulibaly has had a lot of football and the turnaround from Thursday was a consideration.

"He passes the ball well and when he needed to head the ball out he did. He has to adapt to the Premier League. It will take him some time, but it was very positive."

With Chelsea dealing with a long injury list, as well as the suspension of on-loan Joao Felix, Havertz came good at the other end.

Since the start of last season, only Harry Kane (11) has scored more headed goals in the Premier League than the Germany international (six), who acknowledged it has been a difficult spell for the Blues.

"The last few weeks were tough," he said. "For everyone at the club, it is not easy under these circumstances. A lot of things changed this year.

"We have so many injuries, 10-12 injured players. Today we had five young players in the starting XI and they are doing a really good job at the moment.

"I think I was in a good spot. I play in the number nine position and I take the responsibility to score more goals. As a team need to score more goals. I will do my best to help the team."

Graham Potter promised Chelsea are doing what they can to get to the bottom of their injury issues.

Chelsea lost a third successive game on Thursday as they went down 2-1 to Fulham in a west London derby.

Compounding their issues at Craven Cottage, where debutant Joao Felix was sent off, midfielder Denis Zakaria suffered a quad injury.

It means Zakaria joins Raheem Sterling, Christian Pulisic, Edouard Mendy, Armando Broja, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, N'Golo Kante, Reece James, Ben Chilwell and Wesley Fofana on the sidelines.

Ahead of Sunday's clash with Crystal Palace, Potter – who has seen his side lose seven of their last 10 matches – knows Chelsea must find a solution.

"We're looking all the time, going over how it's happening," said Potter, who replaced Thomas Tuchel in September.

"Sometimes when you come in through the season it's difficult to know how it's happened. It's a bit of bad luck and also learning for us all how we can improve.

"The nature [of the injuries], it's not even a pattern, it's different problems. It's tricky.

"It's not like we’ve been over-training or anything like that. We certainly need to get to the bottom of it though."

Joao Felix's three-match suspension, meanwhile, has dealt another blow.

"Of course, disappointing because he came here to play, he's on loan to play," Potter said.

"You saw his quality when he was on the pitch and to lose him for the three games is a real blow for us. Nothing we can do now, we've just got to deal with it."

Chelsea are rooted in 10th place in the Premier League, and Palace would move level on points with the Blues should they win.

Potter has never won a home game against Palace across his managerial career, drawing one and losing three of four previous such games in charge of Swansea City and Brighton and Hove Albion, though Chelsea did beat the Eagles 2-1 at Selhurst Park under his stewardship earlier this season.

Chelsea have won their last 10 league games against Palace but have lost two of their last three top-flight matches at Stamford Bridge, and Potter knows his team need to get back to their best.

"We have to recover from the disappointment of the [Fulham] game, assess all the players and then we have to try to be positive, take a home game on, another London derby against a team with dangerous players, so we have to be good ourselves," he said.

Potter, meanwhile, confirmed there is no chance that Pulisic, who is set to be out until March due to a knee injury, will leave the club in January.

"No chance," he said. "There's never been any consideration about that anyway but he's a couple of months out.

"He's disappointed, optimistic he can come back quicker than the two months, so it's at that stage where it's fingers crossed for his rehab."

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