Progress has been slow and steady at Chelsea under Mauricio Pochettino, but they’ve made big strides forward after their dismal 2022-23 campaign and are starting to look like they might be a serious outfit once again.
Sitting ninth, 12 points off the top four, is an underwhelming position to be in given the recent investment. But things are finally moving in the right direction. Chelsea have won four of their last five Premier League matches, have sorted out their home form, and are through to the League Cup final after producing their best performance yet under Pochettino – a ruthless 6-1 mauling of Middlesbrough.
We’ve identified four players that Pochettino has improved at Stamford Bridge.
Okay, Sterling hasn’t exactly been revelatory this season, and he’s still a long way off his Man City peak. But he’s certainly been better than last season and some eye-catching displays have put him back in the conversation for Gareth Southgate’s England squad for Euro 2024.
The forward has claimed that Pochettino has found a tactical plan that he’s better suited to than predecessors Graham Potter and Frank Lampard last term.
“It was a bit of frustration from last season from myself personally because I felt like I was always coming with my back to goal,” Sterling explained after scoring twice and assisting the other in a 3-0 win over Luton back in August.
“A bit deep and I wasn’t giving myself enough chances to get into the box.
“I had a conversation with the gaffer earlier last week and we’ve gone through the role and I know exactly what he needs from me and it’s as simple as that, I need to get on the back foot and do what I do and drive at players and get on it and that’s when I’m most effective.”
After yet more lavish spending in the transfer market last summer, there were question marks over whether Gallagher would retain his place at Stamford Bridge. But only Axel Disasi has played more minutes under Pochettino this season.
The 23-year-old has been linked with a move to Tottenham, a transfer that would help greatly with FFP, but after his industrious performances in the heart of Chelsea’s midfield it sounds as though his manager is desperate to keep him.
“I think he’s doing a fantastic job, he’s working well, he’s helping the club and us and his teammates a lot,” Pochettino told reporters earlier this month.
“We are happy with his performances. He has an advantage because he knows the club. He knows the demands of the Premier League. We are so happy with him.”
Gallagher is into the final 18 months of his current deal, meaning that we’re reaching crunch time for a decision one way or another.
It would be an overstatement to suggest that Fernandez has completely won over his doubters and completely justified that record-breaking price tag. On Chelsea’s off days, pundits have been left questioning how he and midfield partner Moises Caicedo cost a combined £200million.
But slowly and surely we’re seeing the Argentinian World Cup winner boss games. He’s getting forward and scoring increasingly often and looks to have locked down a key position for the Blues for the next decade. And he really enjoys working under his compatriot.
“The day to day with Pochettino is very good, since it is very close to the players, is very human and gives the player a lot of confidence and ease when it comes to playing,” Fernandez told ESPN.
We’re cheating a bit here, given Palmer was bought rather than inherited by Pochettino. Yet when he arrived in the summer, many were left scratching their heads at the £40million transfer fee. Given his limited minutes as a fringe player for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, there was a sense that we didn’t actually know how good the youngster is.
We do now, and £40million looks a steal. Chelsea’s player of the season and most consistently dangerous attacker, Palmer has been exceptional. A 21-year-old with very few senior starts under his belt before his arrival, Pochettino deserves huge credit for getting so much out of Palmer.