Chelsea do it the hard way! Winners & losers as Blues buy Graham Potter some time with victory over Leeds despite wasteful finishing

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Having wasted a host of chances to make their lives easier, Chelsea ultimately ground out a vital win over Leeds to ease the pressure on Graham Potter

It was never going to be straightforward for Chelsea to end their horrendous run of form under beleaguered manager Graham Potter, but they made life particularly hard for themselves in a tense 1-0 victory over Leeds at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Goalscoring has been the Blues' most obvious limitation, and at times it seemed as though their inability to find the back of the net would cost them once again. But, in the end, an unlikely hero saved the day.

Having made a front-footed start, Chelsea spurned three glorious chances in the opening exchanges, including Kai Havertz failing to capitalise on a one-v-one and Joao Felix almost obliterating the crossbar with a half-volley as anxiety around the ground grew.

Chelsea continued their proactive approach in the second period and didn't have to wait long for the opener, as Fofana nodded home from a corner to spark wild celebrations amid a palpable sense of relief among the players and fans alike.

Despite a number of hairy moments, Chelsea successfully defended out the game to secure a crucial three points for under-fire manager Potter.

Here are GOAL's winners and losers from Stamford Bridge...

  1. WINNER: Graham Potter
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    WINNER: Graham Potter

    There's no underestimating the significance of this result for the embattled Chelsea head coach in what is a pivotal week for his side.

    While the scoreline was ultimately narrow, Potter's men could feasibly have won this 4-0 or 5-0 had they been more ruthless in front of goal.

    For the most part, the nature of the performance will have been pleasing to the Stamford Bridge faithful as the hosts played an exciting brand of football and carved Leeds open at times.

    Once again, there were periods where they took their foot off the gas and allowed their visitors into the ascendancy, but a shift to a midfield diamond saw Chelsea show their mettle and grind out a vital three points. Now on to Dortmund.

  2. LOSER: Marc Cucurella

    LOSER: Marc Cucurella

    A loser on the day on two counts.

    Marc Cucurella's struggles continued as he was left out of the Chelsea squad altogether for the second time in as many games, with Potter continuing to juggle his bloated squad.

    If that wasn't bad enough, his direct rival for his defensive role was outstanding on the day, with Ben Chilwell flying down the left flank at every opportunity and even getting the match-winning assist from a corner.

    The England international is very much the first choice, and with another must-win game coming up on Tuesday night, Cucurella has serious work to do to break back into his manager's plans.

  3. WINNER: Wesley Fofana

    WINNER: Wesley Fofana

    Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger regen!

    Just like the German in his pomp, Wesley Fofana marauded forward, flew into tackles and chipped in with a mightily important goal as he made himself the unlikely hero for Chelsea and Potter.

    Arguably one of the squad's forgotten men following his big-money summer move and subsequent injury, the centre-back emphasised his importance to this new-look Chelsea side with a performance beyond his years.

    In the absence of Thiago Silva, he is only likely to become more crucial.

    Speaking after the game, Potter admitted as much, saying: "Wesley Fofana has been a big miss for us. He's one of the players who has been out for a while. He is physical, brave with the ball and does what he does well in the box which is attack the ball. It gave us a win."

  4. LOSER: Ruben Loftus-Cheek
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    LOSER: Ruben Loftus-Cheek

    Ruben Loftus-Cheek has provided cover at right wing-back in the past, but this was far from his best display as a deputy there.

    Reece James was ruled out in the build-up to the game with a tight hamstring but Potter still opted to revert back to a back three, and Loftus-Cheek was thrown in to cover.

    He struggled throughout, rarely getting forward with his usual intensity and often looking ponderous when he did find himself in the final third, and it was evident that he lost confidence as his passes started going astray and he was outmuscled in 50/50 challenges.

    Chelsea will be desperately hoping that James is fit in time for Tuesday.

  5. WINNER: Raheem Sterling

    WINNER: Raheem Sterling

    Raheem Sterling continued his fine form and was Chelsea's outstanding attacker from the first whistle, taking the game to Leeds and posing a constant threat throughout his time on the pitch.

    The England talisman showed exceptional strength to wrestle the ball from a Leeds player before playing a perfectly-weighted through ball to Havertz, but he was let down by the German's typically profligate finishing.

    He was the protagonist once again later in the first half, this time pulling back an intelligent pass into Felix's path and his wonderful half-volley cannoned off the crossbar.

    Having been frustrated by his team-mate, Sterling took matters into his own hands and went incredibly close to open the scoring early in the second period, but was unfortunate to see the ball sail narrowly over.

    He was subbed fairly early by Potter, but that is undoubtedly with Tuesday's huge clash with Dortmund in mind.

  6. LOSER: Reece James

    LOSER: Reece James

    There had been clamour for a return to a back three in the build-up to this encounter - a tactical tweak that would have unleashed potent wing-back Reece James.

    Graham Potter duly obliged with his formation, but he was frustratingly forced to leave James out entirely in the hours leading up to kick-off as a result of some tightness in his hamstring.

    The game was perfectly set up for him, too, as Chelsea regularly threatened on the counter attack and used their width well. A lack of quality delivery from the covering Ruben Loftus-Cheek was ultimately problematic.