Mauricio Pochettino finds the formula to hand Chelsea a shot at glory in the Carabao Cup final

Chelsea have now taken two points off Manchester City, one from Arsenal, three from Tottenham.

A defeat at Manchester United felt unfortunate given the chances they created.

A point from Liverpool as well, although last month’s heavy defeat at Anfield will be fresh in their minds when they roll up at Wembley for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final.

Pochettino was rightly praised for Chelsea’s set-up at the Etihad Stadium.

At least until the 71st minute, when the assured Cole Palmer exited for Trevoh Chalobah and the visitors attempted to cling to a one-goal advantage with five at the back.

They could not quite do it but green shoots were evident.

Chelsea prefer these games, when the onus is on the opposition to take charge, and they can pick their moments to counter attack in much the same way Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did when he was reviving United.

Solskjaer’s issue was always turning his team into one ready to dominate possession and he never truly managed it.

Pochettino has a remarkably similar task, managing a bloated squad, many of whom he doesn’t want, and a need to find a system that works in the short term.

Their set-up against City gives them the best chance of upsetting Liverpool.

It’s Conor Gallagher’s pressurising, Raheem Sterling’s floating, Palmer’s vision. Chelsea have the weapons to hurt the best and, for lengthy spells here, they did just that.

‘We had chances to finish the game off, although so did they in fairness, but we had some really good opportunities to seal the win,’ said Sterling.

‘There’s a bit of disappointment not to win the game. We just had to stay with City, use our brains and the opportunities would come in the transition.’

The counter-attacking tactics that Sterling spoke of have become something of a necessity because of the club’s confused recruitment.

The expensive pairing of Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez are both terrific midfielders, yet often perform parallel roles. Sitting as a pair, as they did at City, allows both to flourish.

Ask them to do something differently against, say, Wolves at home, and the results are not quite so flattering. And that’s before another deeper midfielder, Romeo Lavia, returns.

Pochettino realises that he needs to be flexible in his philosophy to get this season done.

Chelsea sold fairly well last summer and will need to do so again if they are to secure a new striker and central defender, the areas identified as their priorities for transfer business.

But there have been encouraging signs recently, with a strong win at Aston Villa in the FA Cup and a victory over Crystal Palace that showcased character.

Pochettino needs more time but there is belief now that he has something to build on.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *