Potter on Aubameyang’s motivation and how recruitment will be key to close the gap

49erssports.com - Graham Potter has no doubts that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be focused and ready despite the noise surrounding his first meeting with Arsenal since leaving our London rivals.

The striker’s exit from the Emirates to Barcelona back in February was the subject of much interest given reports of disharmony in the Gunners dressing room, though following a six-month spell in La Liga he found himself back in the English capital with a deadline-day switch to Chelsea.

After three goals in his first 11 games for the Blues, Aubameyang will be desperate to find the net again when Mikel Arteta’s side come to Stamford Bridge on Sunday lunchtime but Potter was keen to downplay the significance of that particular reunion.

‘It’s a big game, a London derby between two good teams,’ said the head coach. ‘Arsenal are doing really well and obviously the history makes it an interesting one for Auba. The past is the past as far as we’re concerned so we’re just looking forward to the game and trying to play well.

‘I don’t think we should make it about him. It’s about the team and he’s an important part of the team for us to get the result we want but it takes everybody. I understand the headlines are about him because it’s Arsenal and there’s a narrative around that. There’s nothing we can do about that other than to try as a team to play well.

‘I think he’s looking forward to the game and he’s excited for it. He’s been pretty normal from what I’ve seen. He’s quite a quiet guy but I’m sure come matchday he’ll be determined.’

Potter’s first two months at Stamford Bridge have been hectic but with plenty of positive signs, not least our progress through to the Champions League knockout round as group winners.

While time at Cobham to work on the tactical nuances he is well known for has been limited due to so many games in the calendar, he has been encouraged by the response from the players in these early days of his reign.

‘Objectively it’s been seven wins, three draws and a defeat,’ he reflected. ‘We’ve had a lot of games in a very short space of time so actual training time has been very limited.

‘We’ve been getting to know the players all the time and been really happy with the response in terms of how the group has been.

Performance-wise we can do more and we can improve, so that’s exciting, but at the same time when you understand the mess of the fixtures and injuries that we’ve had along the way, we’ve done okay with room to improve.’

With the Blues 10 points adrift of league leaders Arsenal going into this weekend, Potter also pinpointed what was required for Chelsea to close the gap to the league’s best teams in the months ahead.

‘There are lots of things in terms of aligning resources in a better way - how we recruit and how we develop the football idea,’ he added.

‘We probably need some time in that regard because of the changes that we’ve been through and we probably need a bit of stability and a bit of clever recruitment to add to what we have and help the team.’

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