Mauricio Pochettino’s appointment during the summer as the new Chelsea Boss was met with enthusiasm from The Blue’s supporters, despite his previous affiliation with London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. The collective hope was that he would inject the much-needed stability and usher in a fresh era for the club.
After five Premier League games, Chelsea’s supporters expressed their dissatisfaction as the team was booed off the field following a goalless draw with Bournemouth on Sunday. There’s an eagerness from fans to see more from a side that’s visibly falling short of expectations yet also one that’s a work in progress.
Pochettino, in response to Chelsea’s second draw in five Premier League games, has emphasized the need for patience. The Argentine acknowledges that his players need to exhibit a bit more aggression to elevate the team from their indifferent and underwhelming start to the season.
Despite dominating long stretches of play in their five Premier League fixtures, Chelsea’s inability to convert opportunities into goals, coupled with defensive vulnerabilities, have only garnered them four points in the league standings. They currently occupy 14th position in the league which is disappointing considering the massive investment carried out in the summer transfer window.
The losses to West Ham and Nottingham Forest, preceding an uninspiring draw against Bournemouth, serve as microcosms of the early struggles under Pochettino’s stewardship.
While Pochettino maintains that their performances merit a higher points tally, he emphasizes the need for his players to sharpen their competitive instincts to fulfill his ultimate aim – to restore Chelsea to the pinnacle of European competition, the Champions League.
Just like Antoine Conte’s Premier League-winning team in 2016/2017, Pochettino is aware of the advantages that come from not participating in the Champions League However, this is a team in transition, and patience is key.
In navigating through this transitional period in the club, here’s how Pochettino can change the tides at Chelsea amid alarming injury concerns:
ADDRESSING CHELSEA’S INJURY CRISIS:
Pochettino find himself grappling with an unfortunate string of injuries, including British-record signing, Moises Caicedo. He lamented his inability to fill a matchday squad list due to the relentless injury crisis, a stark contrast to the staggering £1 billion invested in transfers.
The severity of the injury list often means that the substitutes’ bench is populated by young and inexperienced players, with key figures such as Reece James, Christopher Nkunku, and Romeo Lavia among the absentees.
When the club is hit with several injuries in the first two months of the league campaign, it is the collective effort of the coach, physio and medical personnel to dig a little deeper to find the solution.
Despite these formidable challenges, there remains a glimmer of hope that Chelsea’s fortunes will turn around once their key stars return to action.
REVIVING THE URGE OF SCORING
A statistical tool like expected goals (xG) reveals a significant issue plaguing Chelsea. Their xG of 10.64 far exceeds the actual five goals they’ve scored, pointing to a major problem in converting opportunities. Notably, no team in Europe has squandered more clear-cut chances than Chelsea. Even seasoned players like Raheem Sterling and Ben Chilwell have been guilty of spurning gilt-edged goal-scoring opportunities.
Nicolas Jackson has been at fault for some misses, a bit more forgivable considering his relative lack of experience, especially since he’s only six weeks into his first full debut season in top-flight football.
Also, the inability to capitalize on half-chances and set-pieces have often time come back to bite them as seen in the West Ham game. In contrast, Mykhaylo Mudryk rarely attempts a shot, an unsurprising outcome given his struggles to find the back of the net in the league since joining
EASING THE BURDEN DURING TRAINING ROUTINES
Chelsea’s injury problems necessitate a closer examination. Pochettino must juggle his squad, rotate key players, and employ a cautious approach to prevent potential setbacks. Having fewer midweek fixtures could prove crucial in maintaining player freshness.
When it comes to fitness matters, Pochettino relies on the club’s medical staff to determine player availability and recovery timelines. However, the Argentine also hold the responsibility to strategically rotate his players, especially to safeguard key assets. For instance, Enzo Fernandez has featured in every match since his £107 million transfer from Benfica in January.
In the past season, Chelsea have rushed players back from injuries in an attempt to bolster the team’s performance as seen with Reece James.
Nevertheless, Pochettino understands that such hasty decisions could have detrimental long-term effects. For now, he must work with the players currently at his disposal. The prospect of fewer midweek games is instrumental in ensuring players like Fernandez remain in optimal condition.
DISCOVERING MOISES CAICEDO’S BEST ROLE:
Moises Caicedo’s arrival at Chelsea have not been without challenges, but there’s hope that he can replicate the form he displayed at Brighton during his two seasons at the Amex Stadium. Chelsea faces the task of determining his ideal role within the team – whether as a holding midfielder, a ball-winning presence in key areas, or a dynamic box-to-box player.
ESTABLISHING A SYSTEM:
For Chelsea to progress, Pochettino must establish a consistent playing style and adhere to a defined team selection strategy. Such stability has eluded the club in previous seasons, but it’s a critical element for future success.
Chelsea made frequent alterations to their tactical setup and style of play during the previous season. They shifted back and forth between a three-man defense and four, oscillating between possession-based football and a more direct approach. These constant changes disrupted the team’s ability to establish any sustained momentum.
While much of this fluctuation was influenced by the ongoing changes in the managerial role, Pochettino must adopt a consistent and well-defined playing style that best suits the squad at his disposal.
The reassuring aspect for Chelsea supporters is that Pochettino has a history of adhering to a clearly defined approach, which bodes well for the team’s stability and development.
Pochettino confronts an array of challenges at Chelsea but remains resolute in his pursuit of positive change. The club’s supporters eagerly await the transformation he aims to bring, with the hope that brighter days are on the horizon.
The Blues fans will be hoping for a much-improved performance when Chelsea take on Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Despite their disappointing start, demand to watch games is still high and supporters can buy Chelsea FC tickets at Seatsnet.com if they want to attend a match at the Bridge. Pochettino will be gunning for three points on Sunday but it won’t be easy against a well organised Villa side.
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