Pochettino urges Chelsea to believe Liverpool beatable in League Cup final

AFP , Sunday 18 Feb 2024

Mauricio Pochettino said Chelsea can go into next weekend's League Cup final with greater belief after ending Manchester City's 11-game winning run with a 1-1 draw at the Etihad on Saturday.

Chelsea s head coach Mauricio Pochettino greets Chelsea s Malo Gusto after the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. AP

Raheem Sterling put the visitors in front against his old team as Chelsea upset the odds to provide another twist in a tight Premier League title race.

Rodri's late equaliser extended City's unbeaten run at home to 34 games, stretching back to November 2022.

But Pep Guardiola's men fall four points behind leaders Liverpool and two adrift of Arsenal at the top of the table.

A point was only enough to edge Chelsea back up to 10th and within six points of the top six as Pochettino has endured a difficult first season at Stamford Bridge.

But the Argentine is sensing the chance to lift his first trophy in English football at Wembley next weekend against an injury-hit Liverpool.

"We need to feel that it is possible to beat Liverpool," said Pochettino, whose side were thrashed 4-1 by the Reds last month.

"I think we are going to play the second best team in the world (after City). I think belief is the most important thing and now we need to recover and prepare for the final.

"Today was a really good game to show we are improving.

"Still we are not on the level of Manchester City, we are a young team that need to live these type of games to improve."

Guardiola admitted that City had been made to pay for a slow start.

The home side racked up 31 shots by the end, nine of which came from Erling Haaland.

But the Norwegian had a night to forget as he twice headed glorious chances off target either side of half-time.

"Nine shots is a good stat. Next game he is going to score," said Guardiola.

"I played 11 seasons (as a player) and scored 11 goals, so I'm not the man to give advice to the strikers.

"I don't blame that. It's football, human beings but as a team, as a group the first half was not like we are."

Chelsea have now taken points off City home and away this season and Guardiola's pre-match warning that they possess the quality to hurt his side came to fruition.

"It's Chelsea!" Guardiola added. "I know they are so young, but they are a fantastic team and against those teams you have to perform for 95 minutes.

"We didn't perform to our level in the first half."

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