LONDON (Reuters) – Chelsea must bounce back from their heavy Premier League defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion and will put out a team to win against Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League despite having already secured a last-16 place, manager Graham Potter said on Tuesday.
Chelsea, who sit top of Group E with 10 points from five games, were thrashed 4-1 by Potter’s former side in the league at the weekend as he suffered his first loss since taking charge at Stamford Bridge.
Potter said they needed to respect the competition and that he would not be pressured into fielding youngsters in the final group game against Dinamo on Wednesday.
“We have to prepare to win, we are at home, we want to finish off well. We want to respond from the weekend. We will pick a team we think can win,” he told reporters.
“It’s not a time just to use youngsters for the sake of it. We have to try to pick a team that can we win. We’ve used a lot of young players, they’ve been impressive. I’ve liked their character and personality.”
Dinamo, who are bottom on four points, stunned Chelsea 1-0 in the group opener when the Londoners were still managed by Thomas Tuchel, and Potter is keen to avoid taking them for granted.
“Dinamo are a talented and dangerous side. Good width and well organised. A quality team. They’ve earned the right to be here, we have to be ready for them. We want to finish off the competition well,” Potter said.
Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga will miss out after coming off at Brighton with a foot injury but midfielder Mateo Kovacic could feature following a recent calf problem.
“Kepa won’t be available. Looking at days (out), not (available) for game tomorrow. Kovacic just precautionary with his calf. Got a chance, will make a decision later on. Kalidou (Koulibaly) will, providing there is no reaction, he’s available,” added Potter.
He also dismissed concerns about the form of forward Raheem Sterling, who has come in for criticism after scoring just four times in all competitions this season.
“Every player has times where it doesn’t go as well as they’d like it too. It’s too easy to zoom in on individuals, you need to look at the team and how they’re functioning,” Potter said.
(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)