Chelsea will welcome Leeds United to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon, and anxiety will undoubtedly pervade through the home ranks, who will be desperate for a victory to get the club back on track.
After sacking Thomas Tuchel in the maiden phase of the term, owner Todd Boehly spent £288m to get his west London outfit back on track, but mired in mid-table obscurity and boasting just two victories from 15 outings across all competitions, it’s not flowing as anticipated.
Candidly, manager Graham Potter is under immense pressure, and despite the Telegraph’s Matt Law stating that he has two matches to save his tenure, failure to defeat the Whites would raise few eyebrows if Boehly consequently severed ties with the former Brighton & Hove Albion boss.
And in order to ensure another slip against a relegation candidate does not further chasten the club – Chelsea fell to bottom-placed Southampton in their previous home outing – Potter must unleash £88.5m winter signing Mykhaylo Mudryk, who has endured an indifferent start to life in the Premier League.
Should Potter start Mudryk against Leeds?
Mudryk’s transfer saga was one of the most prominent and entertaining of the winter market, with ostensibly months of hard graft from Arsenal dissipating after opulent Chelsea swooped in like a bird of prey and ensnared the Ukrainian phenom with a bumper package.
It hasn’t quite gone to plan thus far, and he certainly hasn’t made the resounding introduction many expected, with his first six matches for the Blues leaving him still chasing his first direct contribution.
Regardless, the fleet-footed winger is one of the most exciting prospects in Europe; scoring ten goals and supplying eight assists from 18 appearances for his previous team Shakhtar Donetsk in the first half of the campaign.
The “special” Mudryk – as dubbed by Joe Flemons – was “dazzling” in his feats, as lauded by the Champions League’s official Twitter after one dominant display, catching the eye in Europe after scoring three goals and two assists in the group phase.
Leeds are desperately seeking to stave off the threat of relegation from the top-flight, just one point and one place above the bottom three, and given their 39 goals shipped is worsened only by the bottom two, Mudryk could hope to wreak havoc from his dynamic role down the left.
Lauded as an “agent of chaos” by The Athletic, the £97k-per-week ace’s pace and power in his gliding gait marauding down the left flank has left defenders bamboozled and indeed Champions League defences unravelled, with the 22-year-old ranking among the top 1% of positional peers for non-penalty goals and 6% for assists per 90 over the past year in Europe’s top five leagues and European competitions.
The “frightening” talent, as heralded by journalist Josh Bunting, has yet to make a mark on English football, but when he does, the searing blaze left in his wake will burn brightly, eclipsing anything his outfit have encountered for several years.
With the fear to leave backlines quaking in their boots, Mudryk is just waiting to harness the abundant potential that brims from his feet, and with a good performance against Leeds, the torrent of potency that so many have expected might finally gush onto Stamford Bridge.
Therefore, Potter must unleash him from the start this afternoon and afford the attacker the opportunity to finally make his mark in England.