Chelsea forward Raheem Sterling’s struggles in front of goal are down to the team still finding a way to gel as a cohesive attacking unit rather than the England international’s form, Blues manager Graham Potter said on Monday.
Chelsea signed Sterling from Manchester City for about 47.5 million pounds ($53.61 million) in the close season but the 27-year-old has hit a rough patch with only one goal in his last nine games in all competitions.
“I think it’s more a team thing. We have to try to do better as team, try to improve our attacking play as a team. If you do that then individuals within the team function better,” Potter told reporters ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash at Salzburg.
“Rather than go the other way and focus on individuals, I always like to look at how the team plays and functions and there is lots of room for improvement in that area which will help everybody, including Raheem.”
Potter said Chelsea’s struggle to create chances has suffered due to the absence of several players amid fixture congestion, which has destabilised the side.
The club lost wing back Reece James and midfielder N’Golo Kante to long-term injuries while central defender Kalidou Koulibaly is also unavailable on Tuesday.
“It’s a combination of finding the right balance, a bit of a process in terms of not much training time between the games. I think we’ve had seven matches in the last three (weeks),” Potter added.
“So when a lot of players are coming out (of the team) for different reasons, just to find that stability and structure is probably a bit more complex. So that has been a bit of a challenge as well.”
Chelsea is top of Group E with seven points while Salzburg is a point behind in second place. Victory for Chelsea would ensure qualification for the last 16 but Potter said he was wary of the Austrian side who are unbeaten at home this season.
“It (the group) looks really close to me. Salzburg are a really good side, especially here (Austria) they are very strong. We saw their quality when they came to Stamford Bridge (and drew 1-1) so we expect a really tough match,” Potter said.
“We have to fight and match their motivation and intensity because that will be high.”
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