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Gary Neville Podcast: Chelsea have potential but Reece James and Ben Chilwell must stay fit

Chelsea showed they have "a lot of potential" in coming from behind to draw 1-1 with Liverpool on Sunday, Gary Neville said on the Gary Neville Podcast; Blues were playing first game under Mauricio Pochettino; manager played down fears of an injury to Reece James

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Gary Neville and Jame Carragher analyse the new-look Chelsea under Mauricio Pochettino following their season opener against Liverpool

Chelsea's performance in their 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Sunday shows they have "a lot of potential", says Gary Neville - adding that Mauricio Pochettino is the right manager to nurture that talent.

However, Neville warned that injuries to newly-appointed captain Reece James or vice-captain Ben Chilwell would "destroy" the manager's plans should they occur.

The pair lined up as wing-backs at Stamford Bridge against Liverpool, helping Chelsea to come from behind to claim a point in Pochettino's first game in charge.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the 1-1 draw between Chelsea and Liverpool in the Premier League

Both James and Chilwell were substituted in the second half, although Pochettino explained the replacement of his captain was down to fatigue rather than injury.

After commentating on events in west London for Sky Sports, Neville said on the Gary Neville Podcast that he was impressed by what he saw.

'James, Chilwell injuries would destroy Poch plans'

"There's a lot to work with, a lot of potential, and I think they've got the right coach to turn that potential into high-quality performances.

"What we've seen [on Sunday] is that Chelsea have fantastic wing-backs but they've both gone off, first game of the season.

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Reece James
Image: Reece James was named Chelsea captain ahead of the new season

"That will destroy Pochettino's plans. If you're going to play wing-backs, they have to be outstanding players of high quality, who attack like wingers and defend like full-backs, and they have that.

"But the big question mark is if those two can stay fit. Those wing-backs are crucial and if they lose them the whole thing could fall apart a little."

'Lots to look forward to at Chelsea'

"I was a bit worried about Chelsea in the first half hour. It was a change of system that came out of the blue.

"They grew in the game and that wasn't there at the end of last season - they were disgraceful at times. They threw in the towel.

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp felt his side allowed Chelsea back into the game after making a strong start at Stamford Bridge

"They were persistent and kept going [on Sunday], epitomised by the two midfielders. (Enzo) Fernandez and (Conor) Gallagher started to dominate. There is a lot to look forward to.

"What you did see about Chelsea is the frantic nature of (Mykhailo) Mudryk, (Ian) Maatsen and (Nicolas) Jackson. They run offside, they're too quick in their play, they aren't cold in the box, they're a bit too emotional, but Mauricio Pochettino will bring that to them on the training pitch."

'Liverpool not ideal first opponents'

"For both of these teams to have this fixture first game wouldn't have been ideal.

"I came here with Manchester United in Jose Mourinho's first season and it's not a fixture you want, Stamford Bridge away. For both teams they probably walk away happy with a point.

"There is an element to both teams that is frantic, lacking a bit of order, but it is early in the season and neither have finished in the transfer window yet.

"Mauricio Pochettino is a new manager and Jurgen Klopp is trying to settle this new team down."

Pochettino: This is only the beginning

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Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino was happy to begin his reign with a hard-fought draw against Liverpool but insists he is still looking to improve his squad

Pochettino told Sky Sports after the game that Chelsea's performance against Liverpool set the "minimum standard" for what he expects from his side this season.

"The second half, I think we dominated and created chances," said the Blues boss. "We only conceded one shot on target and it was the goal.

"Against a team like Liverpool, we have to be pleased. But this is the beginning. It is the minimum standard.

"I’m very pleased after six weeks of working together to see this kind of performance. This gives the beginning to keep going and working."

Poch: Jackson 'fantastic' | Nkunku a loss

Nicolas Jackson
Image: Nicolas Jackson impressed on debut for Chelsea

Pochettino was particularly impressed by the performance of Nicolas Jackson, who led the line with a strong performance on his Chelsea debut, although he conceded Christopher Nkunku's injury has left a hole in his new-look attack.

"He was fantastic," said the former Spurs boss. "The only problem was that he was sometimes a little isolated and needed more help.

"He was fighting really well. I am very happy with his performance but we need to provide players more close to him. It’s about improving every day.

"We miss a player like Nkunku, who was perfect. The combination, they were doing really well in pre-season.

"The plan was to play with him. But we need to adapt. These things happen and we need to be positive."

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