EPL

Mauricio Pochettino says his Chelsea players deserve a break

By Sports Desk January 14, 2024

Mauricio Pochettino will give his players “time to breathe” after they recorded three Premier League wins in a row for the first time since October 2022.

Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Fulham at Stamford Bridge me22ans the team have taken 12 points from their last five league games, and are now within three points of the top six.

Chelsea do not play again until January 23 when they face Middlesbrough in the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final, looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit to reach their first major final since 2021.

Pochettino will take the opportunity to allow his side time off rather than following the example of other top-flight clubs, many of whom have opted to use the league’s winter break to embark on warm-weather training camps.

“We need to give some rest to the players and staff,” he said. “It’s been a really busy period now, they need to breathe a little bit. This break is well deserved.

“Then we are going to prepare. We’ll have seven days to prepare the second leg of Middlesbrough, and then we are going to play Tuesday, Friday the FA Cup again Aston Villa, then Wednesday against Liverpool in the Premier League. Three different competitions.

“I think they need a few days off. They deserve it. Then after, to attack the second half of the season. They need to have some break.”

Pochettino has hinted that the club could enter the transfer market in January in search of a striker with Christopher Nkunku still unavailable with a hip injury.

The manager admitted to being concerned by the nature of the France international’s problem, which has become “complicated”, particularly with striker Nicolas Jackson likely to be away for the rest of the month at least at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Meanwhile Armando Broja is still looking to find form having only returned in September from nine months out with an ACL injury.

It took a penalty from Cole Palmer in added time at the end of the first half for Chelsea to get the goal that saw them past Fulham, and on the whole it was another frustrating attacking display for home fans to endure.

Whilst the transfer window remains open, Pochettino said he is unlikely to be able to switch off from work.

“You need to be always available 24 hours,” he said. “If something happens I need to be in contact with the sporting director and owners. Because always something can appear.”

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