Chelsea mark their return to Premier League action on Tuesday night with a home clash against AFC Bournemouth.
The World Cup arrived just in time for Graham Potter, who oversaw three league defeats in a row before an unprecedented break. Chelsea’s miserable form during Potter’s honeymoon saw them drop to eighth in the table.
The club collected just 21 points through 14 games and have not tasted victory in the Premier League since October 16, when they beat Aston Villa 2-0.
Injuries played a major role in the Blues’ demise ahead of the World Cup and the break allowed those to recover in time for the club’s festive schedule. Reece James’ absence at right-back was a particular blow, but Potter should welcome the England international back into the squad soon.
Chelsea have been without their iconic full-back since mid-October after picking up a knee injury in his side’s 2-0 Champions League win over AC Milan.
Chelsea have lost nine competitive games as a result of winning just two of those competitions (2-1 victories over RB Salzburg and Dinamo Zagreb in Europe). Crucially, the injury ruled James out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The full-back had hoped Gareth Southgate would include him in his 26-man squad after making good progress in his recovery, but the England boss opted against taking the injured Chelsea star as the Three Lions were eventually knocked out in the quarter-finals.
James played more than an hour in Chelsea’s friendly against Brentford last week and Potter hopes the full-back will be ready to play against Bournemouth on Tuesday night.
The Chelsea boss said: “The plan now is to try and help him get minutes and the next challenge is to prepare him in the Premier League, which is not an ideal place to do that but he has it. have the ability to.” Blues prepare for Premier League return
However, Potter also stressed caution: “We just need to be clear and cautious about the minutes he plays but I’m sure the more football he plays, the more we’ll see how fantastic he is.” player.”
Thus, while James is a sure bet to earn minutes against Cherry, he probably won’t start the game with Potter ready to welcome him slowly. The Blues’ fixtures are against Nottingham Forest and Manchester City (twice).