Todd Boehly's quotes when announcing Graham Potter as Chelsea's new head coach last month said much about his burgeoning reputation.

Having dispensed with the services of one of just two men to bring the Champions League trophy to Stamford Bridge in Thomas Tuchel, Boehly described Potter as a "proven innovator in the Premier League", and someone with "skills and capabilities that extend beyond the pitch".

Potter certainly had big shoes to fill, but it has been a case of so far, so good for the Blues boss.

Nine games into his tenure, Potter has yet to suffer defeat, leading Chelsea to fifth place in the Premier League and into the Champions League's last 16 ahead of Saturday's return to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Ahead of Potter's reunion with the Seagulls, Stats Perform reflects on his coaching journey and asks whether his strong start with Chelsea represents a sign of things to come.



From humble beginnings: Potter's stunning journey at Ostersunds

When Potter – whose modest playing career saw him feature in each of the top five tiers of English football – made an unconventional move to Sweden in 2011, few would have expected him to progress quite so rapidly.

Potter was recommended to fourth-tier side Ostersunds by Graeme Jones, then Roberto Martinez's assistant at Swansea City, and they would not regret taking him on. Within seven years, Potter was masterminding Europa League wins against Galatasaray, Hertha Berlin, and most noticeably of all, Arsenal.

Having led the side to three promotions in five seasons, Potter oversaw a Svenska Cupen triumph in 2017, earning the chance to face some of Europe's biggest names.

Ostersunds' 2-1 success at the Emirates Stadium in February 2018 put Potter on the map, despite Arsene Wenger's men triumphing 4-2 on aggregate at the end of their round-of-32 tie. 

Despite his limited resources, Potter became the first English coach to beat the Gunners in a European tie at the Emirates, while Ostersunds were the first Swedish team to win away at an English side since 1995, earning their boss a move to Swansea.

Making waves at Swansea ahead of Brighton move

Swansea were considered one of the Premier League's best-run clubs for much of their seven-year spell among the top flight between 2011 and 2018, but Potter inherited a team unprepared for a promotion challenge following relegation that May.

The Swans allowed several key men to leave in Potter's first transfer window, but the new boss made a big impact: Swansea may have finished nine points adrift of a Championship play-off spot, but a controversial 3-2 defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals put him on the radar of Premier League clubs.  

Despite only spending one season in Wales, Potter was key to the development of the likes of Dan James and Joe Rodon, both of whom went on to join top-six clubs. 

When Brighton were in the mood to change their style of play in 2019, Potter's sterling work on a limited budget in Wales put him high on their shortlist.

Seagulls soar to new heights: Potter's Premier League bow

In the 2018-19 season, Chris Hughton's Brighton staved off relegation by two points, scoring a mere 35 league goals across a dull campaign. Potter's subsequent arrival was not universally welcomed, with several pundits highlighting his lack of top-level experience, but he quickly made them eat their words.

Although finishes of 15th and 16th in his first two campaigns may not have demonstrated obvious progress, Potter's ability to implement a progressive style was clear: having averaged 41 per cent possession in Hughton's final season, Brighton averaged 52 per cent the following year. 

The 2021-22 campaign saw Potter conduct some of his finest work to date, presiding over a ninth-place finish while losing just 11 games. Only Liverpool (two), City (three) and Chelsea (six) were beaten on fewer occasions. 

In addition to the top three, only Tottenham and Wolves posted better defensive records than Brighton last term, and their energetic pressing style was demonstrated by the fact only Liverpool and City won possession in the final third more often than the Seagulls.

Brighton saved arguably their finest performance for Potter's final match, scoring five goals in a top-flight game for the first time (in 364 outings) as they hammered Leicester City 5-2.

The Seagulls fell victim to their own success as Potter was lured to Chelsea four days later, and there are signs he has made an impact quickly in London.

Potter shakes off Chelsea blues with unbeaten start

Potter arrived at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea languishing three points behind Brighton in the early-season standings. He will return to the AMEX Stadium boasting a six-point advantage over his former club, but Chelsea was not a happy place when he took over. 

Many fans felt Tuchel deserved more time following his excellent management of last-season's off-pitch troubles, and while an estimated £250million transfer outlay demonstrated Boehly's intent, their recruitment felt muddled and short-sighted.

Take, for instance, the decision to reunite Tuchel with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, spending £10.3m on a 33-year-old striker before changing coach less than a week later.

Potter, however, has made light of any concerns, becoming just the second Englishman to go undefeated through his first nine games in charge of Chelsea.

While Chelsea dropped out of the top four following a 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Saturday, the Blues' exceptional European form has seen them wrap up top spot in Group E with a game to spare – a commendable achievement given they failed to win their opening two games.

Potter's willingness to switch between a 4-3-3 shape and the 3-4-3 system favoured by Tuchel has helped him to manage his talent-filled squad, while a return of five clean sheets in nine games demonstrates Chelsea's defensive solidity.

At Brighton, meanwhile, Potter's absence has been keenly felt. While his successor Roberto De Zerbi has earned plaudits for the Seagulls' style, he is yet to oversee a victory in five Premier League games (D2 L3).

Should Potter lead Chelsea to a positive result at his former home, De Zerbi will become just the third coach in Brighton's history to not win any of his first six league matches.

Saturday will represent the earliest date in a Premier League season by which a coach has managed for and against the same club. If the teams' contrasting runs of form are anything to go by, it may come far too soon for Brighton.

At Stamford Bridge, meanwhile, things appear to be looking up, and Potter's meteoric rise may be far from over.

Pep Guardiola remains hopeful Kyle Walker will be fit to feature at the World Cup as he offered positive updates on fellow England internationals John Stones and Kalvin Phillips.

Walker has not featured for Manchester City since suffering an abdominal injury in the Premier League champions' 6-3 win over Manchester United earlier this month.

The 32-year-old subsequently underwent surgery, leaving his chances of making the trip to Qatar in the balance and dealing Gareth Southgate another selection headache.

Chelsea right-back Reece James also faces a race against time to make the squad, while Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold has been in poor form this season.

However, Walker offered hope to England supporters last week, telling BBC Radio 5 Live he was "confident" of returning to action before the tournament begins.

Speaking ahead of City's Premier League meeting with Brighton and Hove Albion, Guardiola offered an update on the condition of his England trio, saying: "I haven't spoken to the doctors about Kyle. 

"Hopefully it can happen, if he's selected, that he can go to the World Cup.

"John has trained for the last two days with us, tomorrow, he's on the list. Kalvin is incredible, he's much better as well. They are recovering very well."

City fell to their first defeat of the campaign against Liverpool last Sunday, but are expected to get back on track against a Brighton side yet to taste victory under new boss Roberto De Zerbi (D2 L2).

On Saturday, De Zerbi could become the first Premier League coach to fail to win any of his first five games at the helm since Scott Parker in April 2019, but Guardiola has backed him to have a "massive" impact in the competition.

"I'm really happy he is here, I saw the last two games he had here, and he is already playing the way he wants to play," Guardiola added. "His impact in England will be massive in the future.

"He was counter-cultural in his country. In Italy, they mainly play in an incredible way which gave them a lot of success as a country, but he plays a completely different way to Italy.

"His Sassuolo team was an incredible example that no matter the quality or investment that you have, if you believe in something 100 per cent, the way your team plays, you can do it.

"He's a really good example for every manager. At the start, it doesn't matter about the results, what matters is the way you believe and the way you want to see your team playing football."

City have won their last nine Premier League home games, scoring at least three goals in each. There have only been two longer such runs in English top-flight history, both recorded by Aston Villa (12 in 1897 and 13 in 1930-31).

Tottenham are capable of winning the Premier League, according to Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Roberto De Zerbi.

The Italian faces compatriot Antonio Conte's side on Saturday in his first home game since taking over from Graham Potter at the Amex Stadium.

Brighton could leapfrog Spurs into third with a win, with the Seagulls currently sitting fourth in the Premier League table, three points and three goals behind the north London club having played a game fewer.

After losing at rivals Arsenal last Sunday, Spurs are four points off the Gunners at the summit, but speaking at a press conference on Friday, De Zerbi thinks Conte's men can still challenge.

"I think Tottenham are in the right condition to win the Premier League," he said. "It's not easy, because there's [Manchester] City, Liverpool, Chelsea, but in the transfer market they bought very good players and after one year to work with Antonio, I think they are able to win the Premier League.

"The squad is better than one or two years ago. If he doesn't play [Dejan] Kulusevski, he plays Richarlison, if he doesn't play [Pierre-Emile] Hojbjerg or [Rodrigo] Bentancur, he can play [former Brighton midfielder, Yves] Bissouma.

"Tottenham are a good team, not only the first 11 – but 20 or 22 players."

De Zerbi's reign at Brighton got underway with an impressive 3-3 draw at Liverpool last Saturday, with Leandro Trossard scoring a hat-trick at Anfield.

"I never speak about the result, but my teams always play with courage and braveness," De Zerbi said. "I want my team playing to make the game with personality and the right mentality to build the right condition to win the game."

The former Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk coach also said it could take time for his influence on the team to be seen, but conceded he does not intend to change much from Potter's successful time at the club before the Englishman left for Chelsea.

"It is a difficult moment for a lot of things, for the language, for the new staff, the new team, for the new ideas," he said. "I would like to put more ideas in... I don't want to change that much, but of course I want to put my hand [on the squad].

"If [owner] Tony Bloom and [chief executive] Paul Barber have chosen me, it means they want to see the team playing with my idea of football.

"At the same time you have to deal with not changing too much, but also how to put my ideas on top."

Tributes will be paid at Saturday's game to Tottenham's fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone, who died earlier this week at the age of 61 after being diagnosed with leukaemia.

"We are very sad for this loss," De Zerbi said. "Some of my assistant staff knew Gian Piero. We are sorry for him, for Antonio and his staff and for the family.

"It was very bad news for Tottenham, but also for people who work in our football world."

Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Roberto De Zerbi reflected on a "crazy game" after seeing his team draw 3-3 with Liverpool in his first Premier League match in charge.

De Zerbi replaced Graham Potter after the latter joined Chelsea last month and a Leandro Trossard hat-trick ensured Brighton left Anfield with a deserved point.

His side could have gone home with all three, with Alisson on hand to deny Trossard and Danny Welbeck further punishing a ramshackle Liverpool defence.

Trossard's third strike ultimately only proved enough to snatch a draw after Roberto Firmino's double and Adam Webster's own goal cancelled out the Belgium international's early brace, and De Zerbi was full of pride at his team's display.

De Zerbi told BBC Sport: "A crazy game. I am happy and proud for my players and my club.

"There was a possibility to win the game but Liverpool is a fantastic team. I knew before the game it could be difficult and it was very difficult.

"Of course, the point for us is really important because Liverpool at the end of the day are Liverpool but we had a lot of chances to score the goals and if we had won the game I wouldn't have felt like we had stolen anything here.

"In that moment, I didn't think we had to win the game. It is 90 minutes plus additional time at Anfield."

Brighton had only six shots, though all of them were on target. Despite the overall performance and a positive result, De Zerbi sees room for improvement.

"We have to learn how to improve with the ball possession and to increase our ball speed and it is up to us to decide it," the former Sassuolo boss added.

"It is really hard to control the game in the Premier League - only Manchester City is doing that. Our target is to start to control much more of the game."

Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Roberto De Zerbi reflected on a "crazy game" after seeing his team draw 3-3 with Liverpool in his first Premier League match in charge.

De Zerbi replaced Graham Potter after the latter joined Chelsea last month and a Leandro Trossard hat-trick ensured Brighton left Anfield with a deserved point.

His side could have gone home with all three, with Alisson on hand to deny Trossard and Danny Welbeck further punishing a ramshackle Liverpool defence.

Trossard's third strike ultimately only proved enough to snatch a draw after Roberto Firmino's double and Adam Webster's own goal cancelled out the Belgium international's early brace, and De Zerbi was full of pride at his team's display.

De Zerbi told BBC Sport: "A crazy game. I am happy and proud for my players and my club.

"There was a possibility to win the game but Liverpool is a fantastic team. I knew before the game it could be difficult and it was very difficult.

"Of course, the point for us is really important because Liverpool at the end of the day are Liverpool but we had a lot of chances to score the goals and if we had won the game I wouldn't have felt like we had stolen anything here.

"In that moment, I didn't think we had to win the game. It is 90 minutes plus additional time at Anfield."

Brighton had only six shots, though all of them were on target. Despite the overall performance and a positive result, De Zerbi sees room for improvement.

"We have to learn how to improve with the ball possession and to increase our ball speed and it is up to us to decide it," the former Sassuolo boss added.

"It is really hard to control the game in the Premier League - only Manchester City is doing that. Our target is to start to control much more of the game."

Pep Guardiola is "happy to help" Roberto De Zerbi at Brighton and Hove Albion, according to the Premier League's newest coach, although the idea of matching the Manchester City manager's football is "unreachable".

Guardiola and De Zerbi have long shared a mutual admiration due to their sides' respective styles of play.

And the Italian, after impressing as Sassuolo coach and then seeing his stay at Shakhtar Donetsk cut short, has now joined the City great in England.

Speaking following his appointment at Brighton, De Zerbi disclosed a conversation he had with Guardiola about his new high-flying club, who lost previous coach Graham Potter to Chelsea.

"For me, it's very easy to start working here at Brighton, because I know the work that has been done by Potter before," De Zerbi said.

"There are a lot of players that are close to my idea of football. They have the right characteristics, especially mentally.

"I want to play my football and be as brave as I want. It's clear that now I take a team that is fourth in the table, but this is giving me much more motivation.

"I think Guardiola's football is unreachable – he has shown a superb kind of football in the UK, similarly to his time in Spain and Germany.

"[Guardiola] is very happy I am on board here. He told me very good things about the club. He told me if I need he will be happy to help me – of course not in the match we are playing against them."

Brighton are yet to face City this season, travelling to the Etihad Stadium next month.

Brighton and Hove Albion have announced Roberto De Zerbi as their new head coach.

The Italian has been named as Graham Potter's successor after putting pen to paper on a four-year deal at the Amex Stadium on Sunday.

De Zerbi takes charge with Brighton fourth in the Premier League following an impressive start to the season under Potter, who departed for Chelsea on September 8, having taken 13 points from their opening six games.

The 43-year-old, who had been out of work since leaving Shakhtar Donetsk in July because of the war in Ukraine, will first take charge of Brighton away at Liverpool on October 1.

Albion chairman Tony Bloom told the club's official website: "I am absolutely thrilled Roberto has agreed to become our new head coach. 

"Roberto's teams play an exciting and courageous brand of football, and I am confident his style and tactical approach will suit our existing squad superbly."

De Zerbi also brings Serie A experience to the Brighton dugout, having managed Palermo, Benevento and Sassuolo in the Italian top flight.

The former Milan and Napoli attacking midfielder notably guided Sassuolo to successive eighth-place finishes during his three-year stint with the Italian side.

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber said: "We looked at a range of excellent candidates but Roberto was our number one choice from the start and the only person we spoke to.  

"It's no secret our chairman is constantly monitoring potential coaches, both here in our domestic leagues, throughout Europe and across the world as part of our succession planning work. 

"We feel Roberto is the ideal cultural and technical fit for Brighton and Hove Albion, and the right person to continue the club's progress and work with this outstanding group of players."

Bayern Munich have been left with a hole after Robert Lewandowski's exit for Barcelona.

Sadio Mane moved to Munich from Liverpool in the close season but he is not a like-for-like replacement.

Bayern have started the new Bundesliga campaign in indifferent form, following up three wins with as many draws.

TOP STORY – NEGOTIATIONS UNDERWAY BETWEEN KANE AND BAYERN

Harry Kane is increasingly open to the idea of making the move to join German champions Bayern Munich, claims Sky Sports.

Sky Sports' Florian Plettenberg reports that negotiations have already been held by Bayern and Kane's brother Charlie, who represents him.

Bayern have made the Tottenham striker their number one target and can offer him the likelihood of silverware, in comparison to Spurs.

ROUND-UP

– Fabrizio Romano reports that Lionel Messi will not make a decision on his future until after the World Cup, but Paris Saint-Germain are planning to offer him a new deal, while Barcelona are interested in re-signing him. Messi is contracted until 2023 but there is the option of another year in Paris.

Jude Bellingham's list of suitors is growing with Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool all keen on Borussia Dortmund's English talent according to AS.

– New Chelsea boss Graham Potter has approved the club's pursuit of RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol, with the club to try to sign him again in June 2023 reports Fichajes.

– Germany international forward Max Kruse's contract with Wolfsburg is set to be mutually terminated during the Bundesliga break, claims Sport.

– The Guardian reports that Lens head coach Franck Haise is under consideration for the vacant Brighton and Hove Albion managerial post, along with Bodo/Glimt's Kjetil Knutsen and ex-Shakhtar Donetsk boss Roberto De Zerbi.

Liverpool reportedly had a deadline-day bid for Moises Caicedo rejected by Brighton and Hove Albion.

The 20-year-old is hot property with a long list of suitors, after an impressive second half of last season in the Premier League.

Caicedo joined Brighton from Independiente del Valle in January 2021 on a four-and-half-year contract.

TOP STORY – BRIGHTON TO OPEN TALKS WITH CAICEDO

Brighton and Hove Albion will open contract talks with hot property Moises Caicedo according to The Mirror.

The Ecuadorian has interest from Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.

The Seagulls are determined to fend off those suitors by pinning Caicedo down to a new contract.


ROUND-UP

– Fichajes reports French giants Paris Saint-Germain will look to sign Antoine Griezmann after this season, as they begin planning for Lionel Messi's departure. Griezmann is currently on a two-year loan at Atletico Madrid from Barcelona. Messi is contracted until mid-2023 and view Griezmann as a suitable replacement if they cannot convince him to extend his stay.

Barcelona will resume their chase for Manchester City's Bernardo Silva in January, reports Sport. LaLiga has increased the club's salary cap, allowing them to pursue the Portuguese midfielder again.

– The Telegraph claims that among those under consideration for the vacant Brighton managerial role are ex-Shakhtar Donetsk boss Roberto de Zerbi and Bodo/Glimt's Kjetil Knutsen.

Carlo Ancelotti is set to be rewarded for his successful 2021-22 campaign with Real Madrid set to offer him a new contract, according to Marca. Ancelotti's current deal runs until 2024.

Inter struggled as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Shakhtar Donetsk in Tuesday's Champions League clash.

Nicolo Barella, who was denied by the crossbar, and Edin Dzeko spurned first-half opportunities, with Roberto De Zerbi's hosts also faltering with a multitude of chances at the Kiev Olympic Stadium.

Manor Solomon and Tete both went close for Shakhtar, but with neither able to beat Samir Handanovic, the Ukrainian outfit settled for a creditable goalless draw against the Serie A champions.

The teams are left on a point apiece in Group D as they suffer similarly timid starts and will need to make up early ground on Real Madrid and Sheriff, who meet later on Tuesday.

The opening chance of the contest saw Solomon surge inside and thrash his effort past the left-hand post before Barella blasted an effort against the bar from long-range at the other end.

Inter's carelessness in possession almost cost them, with Tete angling wide and Pedrinho smashing over either side of Lautaro Martinez's whipped effort failing to find the corner.

Dzeko should have opened the scoring after ghosting onto Federico Dimarco's corner but wastefully prodded over from close range as the two sides continued to trade first-half chances.

Milan Skriniar produced a vital last-ditch block after the break to deny Pedrinho following Dodo's cutback as the hosts boasted 66 per cent of the possession against their uncharacteristically sloppy opponents.

Mykola Matyvenko then gifted Martinez the chance to break the deadlock, but the forward could only skew over the bar when one-on-one with Andriy Pyatov before Dodo selfishly lashed high of Inter's goal.

Substitute Joaquin Correa offered Shakhtar a late scare as he drifted inside and curled towards the far corner, only for Pyatov to turn behind the post before denying Stefan de Vrij from the resulting corner as the match ended level.

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