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Why Cesar Azpilicueta was furious in Chelsea FA Cup loss as Graham Potter makes stance clear

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Conte and Azpilicueta bust-up after 2-2 full time draw

Chelsea fell to their third defeat against Manchester City of the season in the FA Cup clash at the Etihad Stadium, with Blues captain Cesar Azpilicueta furious while Graham Potter made his stance clear.

 

If Chelsea’s Premier League defeat to Manchester City offered moments of hope for Graham Potter, the same feeling was certainly not there after 40 minutes of play at the Etihad Stadium in the third round of the FA Cup. Goals from Riyad Mahrez, Julian Alvarez and Phil Foden showed the Premier League champions will take opportunities handed to them and create their own with class.

The tie was over before Graham Potter even made his two half-time substitutions, but even at a strolling pace the hosts were able to earn another penalty when Kalidou Koulibaly clumsily fouled Foden. Mahrez made no mistakes from the penalty spot to secure a brace and cap off quite the afternoon for the home supporters.

Songs about a former owner and manager emerged from the away contingent in Manchester as frustrations emerged on and off the pitch. The Blues are left in a position where simply winning can provide any salvation

With that said football.london takes a look at what we learned from the defeat ahead of Chelsea taking on Fulham on Thursday.

FA Cup was for rotation

If one thing has become clear over the last 12 months, it is the importance of Thiago Silva. Regardless of his age, and requirement for rotation, any game he misses automatically feels like one that is less of a priority for the club. Of course, in some senses his rotation is unavoidable given the importance of Premier League fixtures with the club lying in 10th. Perhaps difficulties within the league even forced FA Cup rotation to extent.

With the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, Marc Cucurella and Denis Zakaria also on the bench, Potter simply acknowledged he had to find a balance. He said: “They’ll help us out in the back-end of the game so it’s just a balancing act at the moment but we feel we’ve got a team that can compete and get through to the next round.”

The competition became an opportunity for Lewis Hall and Bashir Humphreys, however. Potter added: “The opportunity came up for them to play and they won’t let us down. I’m pretty sure of that. I’m excited to see them play.”

In truth, the teenage duo were among Chelsea’s better performers, but that this game was seen as an opportunity was perhaps telling. Though Hall may hope to find himself in the starting lineup once again.

Frustration brewing

Things did not unfold how anyone connected to Chelsea hoped in Manchester. The result was poor and the performance matched for the most part. Potter had shown some fire in the build up to the match but probably did not expect to see Kai Havertz raising his arm high in the air to commit handball in his own area.

When VAR investigated, many were unsure what had even happened. It’s little wonder that an expletive emerged from Potter’s mouth as he watched the replay. Havertz’s display compounded by an action that allowed the home side to go 2-0 up.

Frustration was evident on the pitch as the game grew and Chelsea struggled to create or escape however. With 10 minutes remaining Cesar Azpilicueta unleashed his own frustrations.

The Blues captain made a clumsy foul and hacked down a member of the opposition as the Blues looked to win the ball. As the referee blew his whistle, Azpilicueta smashed the ball at the advertising hoardings as a result and quickly turned away to get back in his position as Man City’s fans made it clear how they felt about the action.

Injury list grows

While Mason Mount returned to Chelsea’s team for the FA Cup clash, having missed the previous game against Manchester City with a knock, the length of Potter’s injury list did not decrease. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did not travel with a squad already missing Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic as well as seven other players including Edouard Mendy who has required surgery. It does not seem like the latter duo will be available anytime soon.

Potter explained: “Christian just opened up his knee in the game the other day. So, we’re still analysing it. It’s going to be weeks for him. Raheem just had an action, first minute of the game, a backheel that was a little bit strange and he felt something in his hamstring. So again, we’re analysing that. Aubameyang has had a tight back yesterday, so was unable to travel.”

Chelsea’s performances have been subpar, but they are also being hampered by the club’s fitness record since Potter was appointed in September. Both areas must improve.

David Datro Fofana’s role

It was by no means an ideal situation for David Datro Fofana to make his Chelsea debut. The forward only received his squad number on Saturday and soon found himself introduced at half-time with his new club 3-0 down against a dominant Manchester City. It was perhaps an opportunity for Potter to try and lift the ground, but Chelsea’s inability to play through the home side’s press was only ever going to leave Fofana isolated.

Nevertheless, that Fofana found his opportunity due to Aubameyang’s injury is notable. It places the 20-year-old in contention for the squad to face Fulham and if he can make an impression it will set him up for the weeks and months to come given the long term injury to Armando Broja.

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