Paul Merson defends ‘bang unlucky’ Graham Potter but says Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ‘done’ at Chelsea

    Graham Potter is under immense pressure at Chelsea
    Graham Potter is under immense pressure at Chelsea (Picture: Getty)

    Paul Merson has defended ‘bang unlucky’ Graham Potter amid mounting pressure at Chelsea but told struggling striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang he is ‘done’ at Stamford Bridge.

    Chelsea initially impressed after Potter replaced Champions League-winning Thomas Tuchel, but the Blues have since slipped to 10th in the Premier League, 10 points outside the top-four and 19 behind leaders Arsenal.

    Chelsea’s form had led to speculation that new owner Todd Boehly could sack Potter, but Merson believes the former Brighton boss has been ‘bang unlucky’ during his tenure in west London and deserves more time.

    ‘I think Graham Potter has been bang unlucky, if I’m being honest,’ the former Arsenal and England winger told Sky Sports.

    ‘The way they play, with three at the back, the most important thing is to have two good wing-backs, but Reece James and Ben Chilwell are injured and they have also been caught with no centre-forward.

    ‘I hope he gets time because I don’t believe he has become a bad manager overnight.

    ‘It’s a hard one because he’s had so many injuries, but the problem when you’re in trouble is that every game is followed by a hard game.

    ‘You are crying out for a Forest at home – no disrespect to Forest – but they just do not come along. Instead, you get Man City twice.

    ‘I think he has been unfortunate with both injuries and the fixtures. To bump into Man City twice when you are under pressure and you have not got a full team, you are always going to be up against it.

    ‘He is putting youngsters in and some of them have done well, but it’s a hard situation. There’s a lot of work to be done on the squad, particularly in attack.

    ‘They have spent a lot of money on defenders, but you are only going to win something if you can score a goal.

    ‘I rack my brain for who is out there. There’s only one striker I can think of and that’s Harry Kane, but I don’t think he would want to go to Chelsea and I don’t think Tottenham would sell him to Chelsea.

    ‘But you go around the world and there is not an obvious centre-forward for them anywhere. That’s a big problem.

    ‘I worry for Potter that the fans are singing Thomas Tuchel’s name because, at the end of the day, it’s the fans who sack you.’

    While Merson has backed Potter to remain in charge, he believes we are witnessing ‘the end’ of Aubameyang’s Premier League career, just five months after he joined Chelsea from Barcelona.

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has endured a dismal spell at Chelsea
    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has endured a dismal spell at Chelsea (Picture: Getty)

    Former Arsenal captain Aubameyang has scored three goals in 15 appearances for Chelsea and was subbed on only to be subbed off during the Premier League defeat to Manchester City last week.

    Merson added: ‘I think Aubameyang will now be moved on. I think they will cut their ties with him.

    ‘As soon as you are sub-subbing a 30-something player, I think that is probably the end. Maybe you can get away with it with a younger player, but in football it’s one of those unwritten rules. It’s a don’t-do.

    ‘But Potter did it with him at 33 and, for me, I think he’s done. It’s an example of why recruitment is such a big problem for Chelsea.

    ‘They have brought a couple of players in already and it looks like they are going to have a go in the transfer window. They have to. The top four looks very far away right now but there’s a long way to go.

    ‘But if you do that January business and, all of a sudden, Potter goes a week or two later, then another manager will come in and say, “Well, I don’t like him, I didn’t want him.”

    ‘That’s what’s happened with Aubameyang. Potter did not want him, but if he is now sacked and someone else comes in, they will go, “Well, I don’t want that centre-half or that centre-half.”

    ‘Then it’s like you are going around in circles again. That’s why Potter has got to be given more time in my opinion.’

    MORE : Man Utd legend Andy Cole questions Chelsea’s deal for Joao Felix

    MORE : Chelsea could miss out on Youssoufa Moukoko as Newcastle make bid

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