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Cole Palmer hat-trick vs Man United saved woeful Pochettino

Chelsea claimed a stunning 4-3 win over Manchester United in midweek thanks to an excellent performance from PFA Young Player of the Year front-runner Cole Palmer. 

The Blues came from 3-2 down to clinch a memorable win at Stamford Bridge in stoppage time. It was Chelsea’s first victory over Man United since 2017.

While the climatic finish may have made fans forget what transpired over 90 minutes, this was another sorely poor tactical showing from Mauricio Pochettino.

The performance proves that the Argentine coach is a poor fit for this squad.

Lower blocks work for this team – why doesn’t he employ it more often?

In the early moments of the clash, United took the momentum and forced Chelsea deep, but it suited Pochettino’s side as they closed gaping spacing holes.

This is not a well-drilled tactical side that understands angles and relativity, so simply sitting deep promoted the closeness they needed to block spaces and hit United on the counter.

Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez sat deep and blocked the usually porous midfield. Chelsea’s first goal came from a situation where the team was in a mid-block, as opposed to their gung-ho approach.

The second goal also came from a situation where Chelsea sat deep and sprang forward. 

A deeper block helps eliminate mounds of space they could potentially fail to defend. It begs the question, why doesn’t Pochettino employ a deeper block more often?

Caicedo and Fernandez are not the most athletic, and it would make more sense if they sat deep and protected the space behind them. They would provide better screening for the shaky defence. 

However, the manager has continuously insisted on an unsustainable attacking brand of football that leaves the team susceptible.

Glaring lack of control 

With a Palmer-inspired Chelsea two up after 20 minutes inside Stamford Bridge and cruising to an easy win, you would not find one home fan who believed their side could see out the game. 

Pochettino’s team has repeatedly shown that they cannot control games, which is why they have spurned leads to Brentford, Leicester City, Newcastle United, Burnley, Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers in recent matches.

The Blues don’t have the know-how to manage opposition momentum. They are not tactically disciplined enough to handle pressure and almost always crumble.

Individual mistakes from Caicedo and Benoit Badiashile helped United get back into the game, but Pochettino has no tactical plan to help the team rectify these errors. 

The goals they conceded further highlighted why Chelsea must be organised into a deeper block, as it would eliminate the space United exploited. 

Chelsea lost their heads, and the midfield pivot was so high trying to press Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane, allowing goalkeeper Andre Onana to find players in the centre, eliminating the Blues’ tactless press.

Temper celebrations with scrutiny

While Pochettino will be lauded for the dramatic 4-3 win, the underlying tactical issues remain. 

Chelsea fans will savour this victory and hope Palmer’s heroics can spark a turnaround in fortunes. 

However, they would be wise not to get carried away, as the bigger test lies in Pochettino addressing the team’s vulnerabilities.

He needs to forge a system that gets the best out of this talented but inexperienced group of players.

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