Pochettino seeks 'passport' to Wembley to kickstart Chelsea career

AFP , Monday 22 Jan 2024

Mauricio Pochettino issued a rallying cry to the Chelsea support as his side aim to turn around a 1-0 first leg deficit against Middlesbrough to reach the League Cup final on Tuesday.

Mauricio Pochettino
Chelsea s Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino watches the players from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Fulham at Stamford Bridge in London on January 13, 2024. AFP


Chelsea are languishing in ninth in the Premier League despite backing Pochettino heavily in his first transfer window in charge.

But there has been some cause for optimism in recent weeks as Pochettino's men have put a miserable run of home form behind them to win six games in a row at Stamford Bridge.

Veteran defender Thiago Silva had to play peacemaker as a section of the travelling Chelsea support turned against Pochettino and his players when they lost to second-tier Middlesbrough two weeks ago.

Pochettino, though, is hoping the fans can roar his side on to a comeback to reach the club's first major final since Todd Boehly's consortium took charge of the club in May 2022.

"It's a passport to go to a final, to visit Wembley. It's a really important game for us and we need to show it's important for the club, for us, for everyone," said Pochettino at his pre-match press conference on Monday.

"We want to be in the final but first we need to beat a very good team, Middlesbrough, that in the first leg we couldn't beat.

"Of course, it's going to be tough, but we are confident that we can have a very good game against Middlesbrough in front of our fans. We need to take advantage of playing at Stamford Bridge with all the energy that will translate from our fans."

A series of injuries to key players has played its part in a difficult start to life at Chelsea for Pochettino.

Midfielder Cesare Casadei and forward Diego Moreira have been recalled from loan spells at Leicester and Lyon respectively to bolster the squad.

One of Chelsea's big summer signings Christopher Nkunku has been restricted to just one start for the club as the Frenchman picked up a hip injury shortly after returning from knee surgery.

Pochettino confirmed that Nkunku will again be absent for the visit of the Championship side.

"As can happen after a long-term injury, finding the balance is the most difficult thing," said Pochettino.

"He suffered a little thing in his hip – a problem there – and is recovering. It's not a big issue but it's delayed the possibility of him being available for the group."

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