'Romantic' Pochettino ready for 'real football' test from Luton

AFP , Friday 29 Dec 2023

Mauricio Pochettino says the "romantic" in him is relishing the "real football" test Chelsea will face when they visit Luton on Saturday.

Chelsea's head coach Mauricio Pochettino gestures during an English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge in London, Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023. Photo: AP


Pochettino's men head to unglamorous Kenilworth Road seeking to end their dismal run of four succesive away defeats in the Premier League.

Chelsea have not won on the road since beating nine-man Tottenham in early November and sit in 10th place in the table amid a troubled first season in charge for Pochettino.

Luton are third bottom but wins over Newcastle and Sheffield United have pulled them to within one point of safety.

Pochettino, whose team beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at home in their most recent game, acknowledged the David against Goliath clash stirred the football purist in his soul.

"I'm an old man, I am romantic. I love football of the past and this kind of stadium makes you remember when I started to play," he told reporters on Friday.

"It's a stadium that smells different. It's not luxury in the way that we recognise luxury today. This type of stadium is one where you love to be there. It's history, it's completely different.

"Today we are living in a different era, but when you go there, you feel real football."

Pochettino knows Luton would love to add Chelsea to the list of supposedly superior teams to have endured a tough time at their tiny 11,500-capacity stadium.

Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City have all fallen behind at Luton this season, though the Hatters took only one point from those three fixtures.

"We need to go to Luton thinking that it's going to be really tough. The stadium, the fans, it's a team that loves to fight and work really hard," Pochettino said.

"If we want to get a good result, we need to be ready of course to play football, but we need to match the desire, the capacity to fight for every single ball. It's going to be a good test for us."

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