Covid is still around people!
Well after a wait of two-and-a-half years, it finally arrived. The dreaded c-word. No, not that one! Yep, I got Covid. Not the best experience of my life, I admit. Fortunately, I have been triple-jabbed, so the symptoms were extremely mild for me. My age may also have played a part there; I’m in my mid 20s and the symptoms on average are not as severe for someone in their 60s or 70s. Basically all I had was a sore throat, an achy back, a mild headache and a bit of a cough. And after five or six days, all of them had gone. Now I did follow the guidelines from my work, stayed isolated for the requisite number of days etc. I was able to move between two different rooms and I wasn’t stuck in my bed for those seven days, struggling to breathe so as far self-isolating goes, I was pretty alright. But the fact that I got Covid at this stage of the pandemic just served to remind me that this virus is still extremely prevalent.
While the lockdowns and vaccines have helped to bring the virus somewhat under control, Covid is still something that needs to be taken very, very seriously. Something like one in every 70 people has Covid. This pandemic is not over yet. Precautions still need to be taken. We still need to be doing those things that will mitigate the risks of it spreading further. There is a reason why members of my family will soon be going for their fourth Covid jab, a few days after I was stuck in the house unable to even sit across them at the dinner table in case the virus was transmitted to them. This is not over. The focus may have shifted away from Covid, that of the wider population, the news media, the government even. But it is definitely something that should still be at the forefront of all our minds.
What a start for Graham Potter!
Graham Potter has started his tenure at Chelsea extremely well. In his five games in charge, Chelsea have won four, drawn once, are unbeaten, have scored eleven goals and conceded just twice. This has included home and away wins in the Champions League against AC Milan with an aggregate score of 5-0 to the Blues. Couple this with a hard fought and gutsy win away at Crystal Palace and a composed, controlled and commanding home win against Wolves and it has been an immensely impressive start for Potter. What we are seeing from him so far is an ability to adapt his team and tactics to fit certain opponents. Quite often, the formation will also change situationally, that is, if Chelsea are attacking or defending. We saw some of this under Thomas Tuchel and of course we have a much bigger sample size of games to analyse from Tuchel’s time in charge than we do of Potter’s. The attacking players seem have to have had a weight taken off their shoulders. This was a problem that persisted really throughout Thomas Tuchel’s tenure as head coach. While the defence could most often be relied upon to keep opposition teams out, Chelsea rarely blew teams away under Tuchel. They could win comfortably against teams but you often came away from watching a game thinking the team could and should score more. That has seemingly not been an issue for Potter. Chelsea scored three goals in consecutive games for the first time in a while against Palace and Milan. Not only that, but the side have kept four clean sheets in a row. That’s not something they’d done for a while either. When that strength waned under Tuchel and the attack failed to compensate for it, you really saw the side struggle to get results the quality of the squad should have been getting.
It’s impossible to really tell how well the rest of the season will go for Chelsea. For one thing, the squad is different. Chelsea broke the record for a net transfer spend in a single transfer in the summer. Not only did they recruit heavily, they also offloaded players. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is already looking like a great fit for the type of chances that the team is now creating. He is a far more active participant in build-up that Romelu Lukaku was last season, and is showing his ability in front of goal. The academy graduates that have been introduced into the first-team for this season have also started to integrate nicely. Conor Gallagher adds some drive and energy to a midfield that can sometimes seem a little flat. Armando Broja is also one to keep an eye on as the season progresses. His goal against Wolves was superbly taken. I like his movement as a striker as well; he is always looking to make runs on the blind side of defenders, trying to break the offside trap. That could something to exploit if the team is looking to counter attack quickly. There is a long way to go in this season. But the fact that Graham Potter was given a five-year contract is a sure sign that the intention is give him the time he needs to put his ideas in place. But the early indications are looking good for Chelsea under Graham Potter’s management.