It has been a whirlwind start to the 2022-23 season for Chelsea fans. From a transfer embargo against the (finally former) Russian owner, to the departure of several players, to the new ownership of Todd Boehly, to a massive influx of players, to the sacking of Thomas Tuchel, to installing Graham Potter — Times have certainly been interesting at the Bridge.
Today we’re here to discuss all things Chelsea with an expert in the know. One of the managers at We Ain’t Got No History, David Pasztor, was kind enough to answer NMA’s questions aimed mainly at helping our fantasy managers achieve new heights in FPL / Fantrax this season.
James: Hello David, and thank you for agreeing to answer Never Manage Alone’s questions about Chelsea. Let’s kick off with a brief introduction about Chelsea’s SB Nation blog We ain’t Got No History and its crew.
Who founded it and when (and why)? Who’s with you now? How many readers do you have?
David: We Ain’t Got No History (WAGNH) is SB Nation’s Chelsea blog, and we’ve been covering the Blues for well over a decade now, building a sizeable community in the process that’s still one of the nicest places to spend time online as a Chelsea fan. We try to cover every aspect of the club, from rumors to tactics to the games themselves, and including the women’s and youth teams as well. Never a boring day for us!
Chelsea 2022-23 season
James: Chelsea started the EPL season rather mixed, with three wins, a draw and two losses. How do you rate that start based on the teams they’ve faced? Do you think the Blues will improve as the season picks up pace?
David: It’s not been a stellar start, that’s for sure, and we certainly would’ve expected a better points haul from these first six games of the season. The schedule wasn’t the toughest and having dropped what feels like a significant amount of points already, the focus has shifted from title challenge to top-four already. But I would certainly expect our win-rate to climb back a bit more above 50 per cent going forward.
James: Where do you see Chelsea in a few weeks when the FIFA World Cup starts after GW-16, making it almost mid-season?
David: Hopefully well in the top-four, top-six at worst, depending on whether other teams not named Manchester City manage to become or stay consistent.
Tactician and Tactics
James: Well, this is a great time to be discussing this with the departure of Tuchel and the arrival of former Brighton coach Graham Potter: How do you see the basic formation and general play style? Do you think there will be a massive overhaul of Chelsea’s style or do you see the Englishman playing a similar way to the recently departed German?
David: We’ve only had one game under Potter, so any conclusions drawn may be a bit premature, but I wouldn’t expect a massive overhaul in terms of the team’s style, tactics, or selections. Potter’s ideas are not all that dissimilar form what Tuchel had been doing, perhaps a bit more adventuruous and with a more front-foot approach, but otherwise very similar indeed. The change, as far as we know, has been more motivated by behind the scenes relationships than the football itself.
James: Speaking of Potter, which players do you think will get a new chance under his management and with his often-used wing-back system? Do you think this will get the best out of summer signing Cucurrella?
David: This is the chance for the likes of Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech to step up and show their qualities. Basically everyone starts with a clean slate. Cucurella is perhaps the only one who doesn’t, but that should certainly give him an advantage over Ben Chilwell.
James: I can only imagine how difficult this one is to answer as the transfer window was very much divided into two halves for Chelsea, pre- vs post- Boehly eras. Do you think overall that the squad finished stronger or weaker than how they ended last season?
David: In theory, we finished stronger, replacing those who had left (Rüdiger, Lukaku, Werner, Alonso, etc) with proven quality players (or players more keen to work with the head coach at the time), and adding some high-profile young talent as well. Of course, quality on paper doesn’t count for anything once the actual games are played, but perhaps everyone just needs some time to settle in.
James: The transfer window seemed to end with Chelsea being linked to a lot of high-profile names. Of those that got linked but didn’t sign is there any you think would have made a massive difference, and which signing that you did complete were you most impressed with?
David: AC Milan’s Rafael Leão certainly could’ve made a massive difference already, especially given his stellar early season form in the Serie A. Maybe next year? Even without him, our record spending has been a clear sign of intent from the new owners. Getting the Wesley Fofana deal over the line was particularly impressive, with Boehly & Co willing to go and spend above and beyond what was probably reasonable.
Aubameyang or Nobameyang?
James: Of all the transfers that Chelsea completed, the most risky and curious was Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang. A player gifted with talent and a goal scoring record most in Europe would be proud of, in theory this should be a no brainer for a club looking at acquiring a key centre forward. But now well over age 30, with a history of becoming disgruntled and causing trouble amongst his teammates, what is the Chelsea view on his transfer?
David: The view was that he is Tuchel’s man, and that Tuchel would keep him in line if necessary. But then Tuchel wasn’t Boehly’s man, as it turns out. So now we’ll see which part of his reputation Aubameyang lives up to, the one where he scores lots of goals, or the one where he sows discord in the dressing room. Hopefully not the latter, even if it’s (also) not the former.
Sterling – Where does he thrive?
James: From a fans’ perspective, where do you see Raheem Sterling in Potter’s system tactically? Is he an inverted winger, a wide attacker, or a central #10 with the ability to roam?
David: I would assume we’ll see Sterling on the flanks (probably the left), be that as a winger, as an inverted winger, or some sort of a wing-back-ish role. Potter seems to want Sterling in space, for maximum impact, and that’s generally only available on the flanks.
James: Moving swiftly towards the fantasy football prospects of Chelsea players, in your opinion, who do we invest in within Chelsea’s squad?
David: I’m not sure you can trust any player in this team for consistent production in front of goal, though Sterling’s off to a decent start and surely Mason Mount will find his shooting boots eventually. Thiago Silva in defense and, if they can stay healthy, Mateo Kovačić and N’Golo Kanté in midfield should see plenty of consistent minutes still from Potter as well. But if I had to choose just one, I’d spent all my budget on Reece James.
James: I really appreciate your cooperation and answers to these questions. What else you would like to say to our readers?
David: Good luck for the season ahead to everyone!
I hope you enjoyed reading a true Chelsea fan’s insightful answers to my questions. More blogger interviews will be included over the coming days — stay tuned!
Who is part of your fantasy team is from Chelsea? Will you pick more Blues after reading this article? Or maybe you’ll be dropping players? Please keep us updated in the comments section below on your FPL / Fantrax / UCL fantasy plans for after the international break!