EPL

Mauricio Pochettino hopes cup win over Villa can signal new start for Chelsea

By Sports Desk February 09, 2024

Mauricio Pochettino believes Chelsea’s 3-1 win against Aston Villa can be a springboard for his side to revive their ailing campaign.

The team gave arguably their best performance under the Argentinian in dispatching the Premier League high-flyers in Wednesday’s FA Cup fourth-round replay at Villa Park.

And it could not have come at a more opportune moment, arriving after the Blues were booed off by fans at the end of their previous outing, a 4-2 home loss to Wolves that left them 11th.

Chelsea have struggled to be consistent this season as a young squad have found expectations surrounding the club difficult to live up to, particularly in light of the £1billion transfer spend conducted by the ownership.

Yet they comprehensively defeated a Villa side currently in the top four and that recently enjoyed an unbeaten home run of almost year.

“Before (Villa) we had some good performances, but we are not consistent enough,” said Pochettino. “Maybe it could be the starting point for us, starting to be consistent and to show more often this type of performance.

“Always we believe (we can find) momentum and be consistent. Many things from the players and from the team (show we can be consistent).

“I hope it’s going to be a very good thing for us. I think the players deserve, they’re working hard from the start of the season. This type of game showed our capacity and our talent. We have a very good squad.

“We need to put it all together, behave the way that we behave, approach the game in the way that we approach. There are many good things we need to keep for the future.”

Chelsea beat Villa with three outstanding goals, two in the first half from Conor Gallagher, who drilled left-footed into the top corner after 11 minutes, and Nicolas Jackson, whose strike was his first since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations.

Enzo Fernandez capped a brilliant win with a free-kick into the top corner beyond his Argentina team-mate Emiliano Martinez shortly after the break.

“It was only a matter of time,” said Pochettino. “I think Conor and Enzo, they are so good. They work a lot, always committed to the team and to the club.

“Great for Conor, great for Enzo also. They deserve to feel this way, to feel happy, to enjoy playing football. These two guys, they’ve worked so hard to try to perform. I’m so pleased with the performance from them.”

Chelsea will be without defender Benoit Badiashile for Monday’s meeting with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, after he went off with a groin injury at Villa Park.

Levi Colwill’s fitness will be assessed ahead of the game, although Pochettino confirmed summer signing Romeo Lavia is not yet close to returning.

The manager said it was “impossible” the Belgium international would be available before the Carabao Cup final against Liverpool on February 25.

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    United twice trailed at the Vitality Stadium and were fortunate to escape with a point following a poor first half in which the impressive hosts wasted a series of chances.

    While Bruno Fernandes’ double prevented defeat in Dorset, Ten Hag’s seventh-placed side face an uphill task to secure European qualification and also avoid the club’s worst Premier League finish.

    Defender Dalot believes battling back on the south coast was an encouraging sign but concedes the team have significant room for improvement going into their final six top-flight fixtures.

    “The big positive is we fought always for the result,” the Portuguese told United’s website.

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    United, who have never finished below seventh position in the Premier League era, are 10 points adrift of the Champions League positions following a fourth league outing without a win.

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    Bournemouth were denied a first league double over the 20-time English champions on the back of December’s thumping 3-0 victory at Old Trafford.

    Striker Solanke became the Cherries’ record scorer in a single Premier League season with his 17th strike this term, moving clear of former team-mate Joshua King’s tally in the 2016-17 campaign.

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