Graham Potter concedes Chelsea have 'long way to go' to finish in top four

Blues held to a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest to fall further off the pace in the Premier League

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Graham Potter admitted Chelsea have a "long way to go" to fulfil their ambitions of finishing in the Premier League top four and guaranteeing Champions League football next season after a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

Raheem Sterling's 16th-minute goal was cancelled out by Serge Aurier midway through the second half at the City Ground, and it was a thoroughly deserved point for Forest, who were the much more aggressive and dangerous team after the break.

The result is another setback for Chelsea, though, who put an end to a run of three straight league defeats by beating Bournemouth on their return from the World Cup break. The Blues lie eighth in the table, seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester United.

And with the race for the top four more competitive than ever – Tottenham and Liverpool occupy fifth and sixth respectively, with high-flying Fulham in seventh – Potter conceded Chelsea have a battle on their hands to claim a coveted spot.

"It's always tough because you have a lot of big teams with lots of top players and coaches," the Blues manager said. "We need to focus on the next match but clearly we have a long way to go."

That next match is at home against champions Manchester City on Thursday night and will give Chelsea the opportunity to set aside their poor away form. The Blues have won just three of their nine Premier League games on the road and Potter was asked whether his team are struggling to perform in hostile atmospheres at away grounds.

"I don’t think it’s this team, it’s just generally. You have to credit Nottingham Forest because they’re here for the first time in a lot of years so they’re celebrating everything and rightly so. They used the crowd and we have to be able to deal with that," he said.

"I thought we stood up today and the effort was there. We played a draw against Brentford which isn’t an easy place to go, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace we won, Brighton wasn’t a good game for us at all, but that’s the Premier League for you. Away from home, teams don’t make it easy for you."

Nottingham Forest v Chelsea player ratings

Chelsea are expected to be busy during the January transfer window after a summer which saw the club spend a record £252 million on new players amid plenty of upheaval, with new owners taking control and a host of players heading for the exit.

David Datro Fofana, the 20-year-old Ivorian striker, has been signed from Norwegian side Molde, while Monaco's French centre-back Benoit Badiashile and Brazilian teenager Andrey Santos, of Vasco da Gama, are expected to join the club imminently. Then there is the ongoing speculation that Chelsea are attempting to pull off a club-record deal for Benfica's World Cup-winning midfielder Enzo Fernandez.

However, Potter refused to be drawn into discussing transfers, saying: "It’s part of the season that we all have to deal with so I won’t complain about it. While the window is open, there’s noise and 24/7 media that has to be filled with something. It’s normal and it’s a part of modern-day football that we have to deal with."

Updated: January 02, 2023, 4:49 AM