Chelsea starlet Hall shines but Potter problems remain after City loss

Man City v Chelsea: Carabao Cup pictures

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Graham Potter will know there is no easy solution to his problems after a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City as Chelsea crashed out of the Carabao Cup third round. But a stellar display from academy starlet Lewis Hall will have given the head coach one reason to be positive after the teenager impressed on only his second appearance for the club.

Riyad Mahrez curled in a sublime free-kick that somehow breached the Chelsea wall on 53 minutes to hand City a deserved lead and the hosts doubled their advantage soon after, with Mahrez’s effort palmed out by Edouard Mendy into the path of Julian Alvarez who tucked home.

Hall was denied by a stunning stop from City goalkeeper Stefan Ortega which denied the Blues a way back into the game and that was a close as they came as the champions made it 16 straight home wins in a row.

Express Sport looks at five things learned from the Carabao Cup clash.

Potter needs some magic

Unlike his wizardry namesake, Graham Potter cannot simply wave a magic wand and make Chelsea’s problems disappear. With three defeats out of four games, though, the 47-year-old will know that time is not something that is usually afforded to coaches struggling to turn around results – and it is something he must figure out soon.

Having gone his first nine games in charge unbeaten, Potter has only wins over Red Bull Salzburg and Dinamo Zagreb since then. A draw against Manchester United, a heavy defeat against his former club Brighton and a damaging derby loss at the hands of Arsenal have dampened the optimism he had been building.

Injuries have played their part and Potter has been candid in his assessment of where his squad is at. But even without Erling Haaland, Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden, City were dominant against his much-changed side until the big guns were brought on and there was a coherence with Pep Guardiola’s side that simply was not evident in Chelsea’s play.

He needs time to work with his side – whether he will get it is another matter entirely, despite a spirited second-half display at the Etihad.

A Hallmark moment

Lewis Hall was a surprise name on the teamsheet but the 18-year-old would not have been daunted by his first appearance in 10 months for Chelsea after making his debut in the FA Cup. Graham Potter said he had been impressed with the versatile midfielder’s work in training after joining the senior squad and was rewarded with a place at wing-back on the left flank.

And he wasted no time in taking his chance, producing a delightful piece of footwork to skip past Riyad Mahrez before going on a lung-busting run. He then showed remarkable vision to pick out Hakim Ziyech later in the half with a 50-yard diagonal, only for Aymeric Laporte to produce a perfectly-timed tackle.

His moment to make his mark after skipping past Rico Lewis and bearing down on goal. But with his weaker foot, the youngster saw his effort saved by Stefan Ortega and the chance went begging and a similar opportunity came and went in the second half. Still, it summarised just how talented this teenager is and Chelsea appear to have another special player in their ranks.

Grealish finally arrives

Few would doubt that Jack Grealish would be included in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad for the World Cup in Qatar later this month. But to be a starter, with an abundance of talented attacking players available, is another matter.

Grealish’s statistics have left a lot to be desired since his £100m move to the Etihad in August 2021, with just seven goals in 53 appearances, but Pep Guardiola has persisted with the 27-year-old to hand him more minutes this season.

He was lively from the left flank, doubling up on Ruben Loftus-Cheek with Sergio Gomez and twice went close to opening the scoring as he looked far more confident than he ever has in a City shirt. If he continues to play like this, it will only benefit England in Qatar.

Paltry Pulisic misses the target

If Christian Pulisic’s pleas for first-team football had fallen on deaf ears, his family and even USA coach Gregg Berhalter have done their best to make his case for him.

But the American forward will know there is a reason why Raheem Sterling is starting regularly and he has been consigned to a bit-part role. The 24-year-old worked hard to create a. number of opportunities with direct running and towards the City backline, but often made the wrong decision in the final third.

When he did, curling an effort at goal, Ortega was equal to it. But his first chance was the most important, somehow fluffing his lines from six yards out, and City punished Chelsea for their profligacy as Pulisic was left to regret more misses as his wait for a goal goes on.

Alvarez an excellent deputy

No Haaland? No problem. As long as Guardiola has Julian Alvarez available to come into the side, the Catalan will be content that his team will put away their chances as he got his name on the scoresheet once again.

He has scored twice in the Champions League, three times in the Premier League, once in the Community Shield and now the Carabao Cup after being in the right place at the right time to sweep home Mahrez’s rebound.

At £18m, he looks a bargain signing for City and if he can help preserve Haaland for the bigger matches this season, it could be crucial in helping the English champions challenge for silverware on all four fronts.

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