Graham Potter has admitted that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s heavy workload is the reason he was only given ten minutes against Brentford in Wednesday’s exciting 0-0 draw.
The Gabon forward was left on the bench until the 80th minute of the game, despite Potter’s Blues clearly struggling in front of goal in the back and forth stalemate.
But the Chelsea manager claimed Aubameyang has already ‘played a lot’ since his £10million arrival from Barcelona on transfer deadline day – and his absence allowed the likes of Kai Havertz the opportunity to play themselves into form.
‘Yeah, of course, but I know the reasons why,’ explained Potter to reporters when asked whether he was tempted to bring on Aubameyang earlier in the tie.
‘Again, it’s the load of him, he’s played a lot, and it gives the chance for Kai to score and play, and we were close with that. Yeah, I understand the question.’
While the defensive unit of Trevoh Chalobah, Marc Cucurella and Kalidou Koulibaly did its job with another clean sheet, the visitors clearly struggled going forward.
However the former Brighton boss was adamant that there were opportunities for his side, before insisting that there was still work to be done on the training field.
The west London outfit had won five in a row in Potter’s first six games in charge – keeping clean sheets in four of the five games in all competitions – in a run that has propelled them up to fourth in the Premier League and to the top of their Champions League group.
But with their star striker left on the bench until the eleventh hour, Chelsea dropped points for the first time under Potter in over a month.
And having scored only nine times in seven games under Thomas Tuchel at the start of the campaign, the Stamford Bridge club have managed 13 in their next seven matches since the managerial change.
Potter added: ‘Well, I always look at the team and try to get the team functioning better rather than zooming into individuals.
‘I understand the question, but I would rather look at the team and try and help the team attack better.
‘It’s not easy against Brentford because if you don’t attack well, quickly, it’s in your backline, and you have to control a mess which is difficult to do because they’ve got physicality, and that’s how they make the came unstable.
‘We were close with Mase [Mount], close with Kai, but we can improve in that area.’