Mauricio Pochettino praises ‘amazing’ Emiliano Martinez after goalless cup draw

By Sports Desk January 26, 2024

Mauricio Pochettino praised Emiliano Martinez after the Aston Villa goalkeeper produced a string of saves to deny his Chelsea side in their goalless FA Cup fourth-round meeting at Stamford Bridge.

Villa are five places and 12 points ahead of Chelsea in the Premier League table but there was little to separate them here, although the hosts will reflect on chances missed in the first half by Noni Madueke and Cole Palmer as a shot at settling the tie slipped away.

Martinez was the decisive actor on both occasions, spreading himself well and blocking in one-on-one situations.

John McGinn had Villa’s best opportunities, first when his clipped effort sailed inches over the bar on the stroke of half-time, then again when he stole in at the near post to meet Nicolo Zaniolo’s cross late on but guided it wide under pressure from Thiago Silva.

It is now three consecutive home games against Villa in which Chelsea have failed to score, as they struggled to capitalise on the momentum of Tuesday’s 6-1 Carabao Cup win over Middlesbrough that set up a final showdown against Liverpool at Wembley next month.

“This type of games are very even,” said Pochettino. “When you face a team like Aston Villa, always it’s difficult. We didn’t score but we created chances. I trust and believe in my players playing this way, we are going to score.

“We came from Tuesday, we scored six so today should be good. But their keeper is an amazing keeper, he’s really good. Sometimes you need some luck to score.”

Chelsea lost defender Levi Colwill to injury during the warm-up, with 20-year-old academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist drafted into the starting XI.

Pochettino confirmed Colwill’s injury is not serious and emphasised his belief in Gilchrist as a capable stand-in.

“It’s not so bad, it’s some small issue that maybe he didn’t feel comfortable,” he said. “We knew before we might not start with him. We hope he will train tomorrow.

“The most difficult thing (for young players) is to manage the stress. (Gilchrist) thought he wasn’t going to play. Sometimes with the young guys, you give the starting XI and they think too much, maybe they can’t sleep. The stress can affect them. But he got half an hour (to prepare), no time to think too much.

“The young players need time to be calm and relaxed, not to spend too much energy thinking on the game. But he was really good. He’s going to grow and be more mature in future.

“He’s showing, and we are giving the opportunity for him to build his career. It’s important for all of the academy players have ability to show they can cope with the pressure of playing for Chelsea. We’ll see if he can reach the level we expect.”

Villa boss Unai Emery reflected on a game in which side impressed with their competitive approach despite the stalemate.

“I have to accept this draw and that we will now play at home and be motivated with our supporters,” he said.

“We are going to be at Villa Park trying to enjoy this, because we showed tonight that we are competitive and we can be contenders as well for this competition.”

Related items

  • Vancouver boss Sartini not worried about reception for 'artist' Messi Vancouver boss Sartini not worried about reception for 'artist' Messi

    Vanni Sartini has no problem with Vancouver Whitecaps fans who wish to cheer Lionel Messi when Inter Miami visit BC Place on Saturday, but he wants his players to ignore the Argentine's presence and focus on themselves.

    Miami are currently leading the way in the Eastern Conference and the Supporters' Shield race, with last week's 1-0 win over D.C. United lifting them to 31 points from 15 games. 

    Messi has contributed 10 goals and nine assists in MLS play this year, and he is expected to feature in Canada despite sustaining a knock in a training session earlier this week.

    Supporters' desire to see the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner play has led to some bizarre atmospheres since he arrived in MLS, but Sartini will not tell Vancouver's fans who to applaud.

    "It's like going to the Louve and saying, 'don't cheer for the Mona Lisa'. Messi is an Opera artist," Sartini said in his pre-match press conference.

    "I'm going to be more excited to see David Beckham than Messi… it's a generational thing. I hope Beckham comes, even my wife will be more happy if Beckham comes!"

    Changing tone, Sartini said: "We cannot limit the danger of Messi and Luis Suarez. 

    "We must prevent the ball from being passed towards them and we need to be in the right state of mind. Let's forget about Messi and focus on our own performance."

    Vancouver currently occupy the final automatic playoff spot in the West, taking 19 points from their first 13 matches of 2024.

    Messi's Miami team-mate Robert Taylor believes the World Cup winner has made the rest of Gerardo Martino's squad better this year, saying: "Everyone knows what he

    brings on the field; he scores, he assists, he does amazing things on the field, he brings us results. 

    "Then in training, there's this energy around the team, he makes everyone better.

    "That's because of his personality, he wants to win every game – even in training – and I think that's been lifting everyone up a lot recently."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Vancouver Whitecaps – Ryan Gauld

    Gauld scored a stoppage-time penalty to earn Vancouver a 1-1 draw against the Seattle Sounders last time out, and the Whitecaps' last five goals in MLS play have now been scored either by the Scot (two) or Brian White (three).

    Inter Miami – Lionel Messi

    Messi has failed to record a goal contribution on two successive starts for just the second time since joining Miami last year. 

    The last time Messi went three or more straight starts in league play without contributing to a goal was on his first four starts for Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1, between September and October 2021.

    MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

    Despite progressing in the Canadian Championship on away goals in midweek, the Whitecaps are winless in their last four matches across all competitions (one draw, three losses).

    Miami, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their last nine, winning six and drawing three, though they were held to a goalless draw in their last road game against Orlando City.

    Messi missed that Florida derby, though, and the Herons have won their last seven league matches when he has been named in their starting lineup, boasting an overall record of 10 wins, two draws and one defeat in 13 league games with Messi starting.

    The Whitecaps, however, are unbeaten in their last nine regular-season games against Eastern Conference opponents dating back to the start of last season, winning four and drawing five.

    The only team from the East to win in Vancouver since the start of 2021 was the Chicago Fire in July 2022. With that in mind, a draw could be on the cards on Saturday.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Vancouver Whitecaps – 38.5% 

    Inter Miami – 31.7%

    Draw – 29.8%

  • Gilbert targeting continued success with Arnett Gardens as CFU Caribbean Shield awaits Gilbert targeting continued success with Arnett Gardens as CFU Caribbean Shield awaits

    Despite his extensive experience and success coaching female teams, Xavier Gilbert’s introduction to the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) was expected to be tough, especially guiding a team such as Arnett Gardens.

    Well aware of how most felt about his chances in the nation’s top-flight, Gilbert was determined to overcome the challenges of gaining experience at that level, and also prove his doubters wrong, and he did just that, for the most part. Though he didn’t lead Arnett Gardens to a long-awaited title –dating to the 2016-17 triumph –Gilbert, who is an assistant to senior Reggae Girlz Head coach Hubert Busby, believes a third-place finish was an achievement of sorts.

    This, as it not only follows a similar outcome from last season but, more importantly, earned them a spot in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Caribbean Shield where they will challenge for one of two spots to the more prestigious Concacaf Caribbean Cup.

    The “Junglists”, who placed fifth in the preliminary round on 49 points, hammered Waterhouse 5-1 in the third-place encounter to finish behind Champions Cavalier FC and beaten finalist Mount Pleasant FA.

    “Pressure is natural, and it helps us focus on meeting our objectives. So, I saw that pressure as a positive motivator for us to attain our goals. We didn't win the title or make it to the finals, but finishing third and getting a spot in the CFU Caribbean Shield is definitely an achievement.

    “The season was very competitive, especially between the teams in the top six, and then there were those teams that improved throughout the season. We prepared for all our opponents and gave our best each time we touched the field and it is just unfortunate that we couldn’t go all the way,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

    “I want to applaud the players, my support staff, management, and everybody, who played a part in ensuring the players were healthy and fed, the community and the fans. I want to thank them for their support and commitment, and as we look forward to the CFU Caribbean Shield, we just want to do well to ensure that we make it to the CONCACAF level to join Mount Pleasant and Cavalier,” he added.

    Gilbert knew his decision to take the reins at Arnett Gardens would prove a sound one, as he made astute changes to their tactical approach along the way that contributed to his fairly successful debut season.  Still, the tactician credited the players led by veteran Fabian Reid and rising star Keheim Dixon for delivering at very high standards, so that he could realise his ambitions of keeping the team competitive.

    “Every team offers a different level of competition and you have to adjust accordingly based on what is happening on the day. Sometimes you plan to play a particular way, but based on how things are unfolding on the day, you just have to change and make that adjustment and adapt as quickly as possible. That is among some of the things that I learned through the season,” Gilbert revealed.

     “Also working with the players was a major high point, the level of respect and professionalism that they showed throughout the campaign was great and that was a rewarding experience. Technically we played well, but the results didn’t always match our performances. So going forward we’re trying to learn from the mistakes of the season and hope to perform better in the CFU Shield and hopefully, the Concacaf Club Championships,” he shared.

    Every coach has a unique philosophy, and for Gilbert dedication to hard work and giving people what they deserve are crucial factors for success. In fact, he was quick to point out that belief in teamwork and harnessing individual potential for the collective good are just as important and that is the inspiration they are taking into the Caribbean Shield set to unfold from July 25 to August 4, at a venue to be announced.

    “Our expectation is to build on what we have achieved so far and finish in the top two and advance. We know it is not going to be easy, but the players are excited, they are looking forward to it and it is just for them to go out and make themselves, the club and the community proud. It is also a good way for them to market themselves, so I know they want to make the most of it,” Gilbert ended.

  • West Ham's Paqueta charged by FA over alleged breaches of betting rules West Ham's Paqueta charged by FA over alleged breaches of betting rules

    Lucas Paqueta has been charged by the Football Association (FA) over alleged breaches of betting rules, with the West Ham midfielder accused of intentionally seeking to receive a card in four different games.

    Last August, it was reported that the FA had opened an investigation into suspicious betting activity surrounding Paqueta.

    In March, the Brazil international said he was cooperating with the FA's probe and was "happy to be helping".

    On Thursday, the FA brought charges against Paqueta, who is accused of attempting to get himself carded in four different Premier League fixtures, three in the 2022-23 season and one on the opening matchday of 2023-24.

    An FA spokesperson said: "West Ham United's Lucas Paqueta has been charged with misconduct in relation to alleged breaches of FA Rules E5 and F3.

    "The player has been charged with four breaches of FA Rule E5.1 in relation to his conduct in the club's Premier League fixtures against Leicester City on 12 November 2022; Aston Villa on 12 March 2023; Leeds United on 21 May 2023; and AFC Bournemouth on 12 August 2023. 

    "It's alleged that he directly sought to influence the progress, conduct, or any other aspect of, or occurrence in these matches by intentionally seeking to receive a card from the referee for the improper purpose of affecting the betting market in order for one or more persons to profit from betting."

    Paqueta, who has until June 3 to respond to the charges, immediately addressed them on social media, vowing to clear his name.

    He wrote on Instagram: "I am extremely surprised and upset that the FA has decided to charge me. For nine months, I have cooperated with every step of their investigation and provided all the information I can.

    "I deny the charges in their entirety and will fight with every breath to clear my name."

    The news comes after Brentford striker Ivan Toney served an eight-month ban following his admission of 232 breaches of betting rules between 2017 and 2021.

    Newcastle United's Sandro Tonali, meanwhile, is midway through a 10-month suspension for breaking the Italian Football Federation's gambling rules and was recently given a suspended two-month sanction over 50 breaches investigated by the FA.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.