Graham Potter’s Chelsea is in the mud. They’re in the deep, deep trenches.
Manchester City and Chelsea faced off at the Etihad on Sunday in the third round of the FA Cup. This was the second time playing each other in three days and the third time they'd done so in the 2022-23 season.
Early stages of the domestic cup are typically used by managers to give minutes to players without much playing time, but this match seemed like the perfect opportunity for the Blues to ignite a turn-around from their poor restart to the season and to bounce back from Thursday's 1-0 Premier League loss against the Citizens. It was an important match for Potter's sake.
However, even with Potter’s managerial job on the line, the Londoners still couldn't manage to play a decent game of soccer.
Chelsea once again lose to Man City, this time 4-0
Chelsea got absolutely wrecked by Manchester City. What, on paper, seemed like the most promising matchup of this FA Cup stage ended up turning into a complete mismatch and blowout of a game.
Poor defensive transitions, a childish handball and a magisterial free-kick by Riyad Mahrez had the Citizens up 3-0 before the start of the second half. It was that easy.
RIYAD MAHREZ WHAT A FREE KICK pic.twitter.com/pGLSmKdMiM
Julian Alvarez scores from the spot in his first start since winning the World Cup pic.twitter.com/Ld8LlNtaDs— ESPN+ (@ESPNPlus) January 8, 2023
PHIL FODEN PUTS MAN CITY UP 3-0 OVER CHELSEA pic.twitter.com/4WZtBnSiu0
For the final 45 minutes — even when it was clear that Pep Guardiola’s players had lowered the intensity — Manchester City still managed to get another goal in without conceding. Mahrez doubled his goal tally from the spot to make it 4-0.
This was the first time Chelsea had been eliminated from the third round of the FA Cup in 25 years.
Chelsea are undoubtedly the disappointment of the season
After perhaps completing the best transfer window last summer with the signings of Raheem Sterling, Wesley Fofana, Marc Cucurella, Kalidou Koulibaly, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and more, Chelsea have already thrown in the towel on this season’s objectives in January. There are still four months left to play.
Following their third loss against Man City (seven goals conceded and zero scored), the Londoners have now been eliminated from the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup and stand 10th in the Premier League.
It's only January and Chelsea are already out of FA Cup, Carabao Cup, and are 10th in the Premier League pic.twitter.com/hOh9TM9i5t
What was a promising start to Potter’s career with the Blues in September — going undefeated for nine games with six wins — has turned into an utter nightmare. Since October, Chelsea have won only two of their last nine games in all domestic competitions. They are now as close to the relegation zone as they are to a Champions League spot.
Chelsea are 10 points away from fourth place (Champions League), eight points away from fifth place (Europa League) and will face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League round of 16 in February. That’s all that’s left to fight for.
Now, considering the Chelsea board sacked Thomas Tuchel (2021 Champions League winner with Chelsea) a month into the 2022-23 season because they were desperate for success, it'll be interesting to see what they decide to do with Potter in the coming weeks.
Will Chelsea opt for the ratification of Potter’s career at Chelsea for long-term success or will they start a new project with the appointment of a second manager in four months?