Graham Potter called for a marked improvement from Chelsea ahead of their New Year’s Day trip to Nottingham Forest, with the Blues finishing 2022 outside the Premier League’s top four after a difficult spell.
Chelsea returned to Premier League action with a 2-0 win over Bournemouth on Tuesday, having entered the World Cup break on a run of three consecutive defeats in the competition.
Potter’s short spell in charge at Stamford Bridge has contained several ups and downs, but the former Brighton and Hove Albion boss expects better from the Blues in 2023.
“We want to keep improving. There’s a simple answer,” Potter said. “We’ve had a challenging time.
“There’s been some ups and some downs in the previous year, which is normal at any football club, but we want to try and stabilise, and we want to try and improve and make our supporters happy.
“We know that before the break, the last few weeks, it wasn’t nice for us. Results suffered and performances weren’t where we’d like them to be. So we have to do better than that.”
Steve Cooper, meanwhile, knows Forest must harness the energy of the City Ground crowd after slipping to 19th in the table with Tuesday’s loss at Manchester United.
“We know Chelsea are going to be tough, they have an incredible squad and had a good win last time out, but we have to really back ourselves,” Cooper said.
“If we are going to do anything, we’ve got to do it ourselves and that starts with believing and committing to what we can bring positively to the match.
“We’re at home and we know the level of atmosphere that our supporters can create for us. We’ve got to try and thrive off that and give the supporters something to shout about.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Nottingham Forest – Dean Henderson
Only three Premier League goalkeepers – David Raya, Jordan Pickford and Bernd Leno – have bettered Henderson’s tally of 53 saves this campaign, and the loanee will need to be at his best if the hosts are to cause an upset.
Chelsea – Raheem Sterling
Sterling has been involved in 10 goals in his last 11 Premier League away games against promoted sides (eight goals, two assists), netting a hat-trick in his last such game at Norwich City in February last season.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This is the first time Nottingham Forest are hosting Chelsea in any competition since February 1999 – a 3-1 loss in the Premier League.
– Chelsea have lost just one of their last 11 away league games against promoted sides (W8 D2), going down 3-0 at Sheffield United in July 2020.
– Nottingham Forest are looking to win consecutive Premier League home games within the same season for the first time since their final two home matches of the 1998-99 campaign. Each of their last six home wins in the top-flight has seen them keep a clean sheet – they’ve not won any of their last 26 games when conceding (D11 L15) since a 2-1 win over Spurs in January 1997.
– Nottingham Forest have won 11 of their 19 Premier League games in January, their best win rate in a single month in the competition (58 per cent). Indeed, only Manchester United (65 per cent) have won a higher share of their January games than Forest in Premier League history.
– Welsh managers are winless in their last 11 Premier League matches against Chelsea, losing each of the last nine in a row (D2). The last one to beat the Blues was Mark Hughes (with Stoke City) in November 2015, while Nottingham Forest’s Steve Cooper could be the first Welshman to win his first Premier League meeting with Chelsea since Mike Walker in August 1992 (2-1 with Norwich City).