EPL

Mauricio Pochettino upset as Chelsea draw with 10-man Burnley in ‘must-win game’

By Sports Desk March 30, 2024

Mauricio Pochettino conceded Chelsea are missing something after they failed to defeat 10-man Burnley in what he reflected had been a “must-win” game at Stamford Bridge, which ended 2-2.

Cole Palmer’s goal, drilled into the bottom corner from Raheem Sterling’s delightful flick with 12 minutes to play, looked to have nicked it for the hosts, restoring the lead after Josh Cullen had whacked Burnley level on the volley early in the second half.

Palmer had earlier given Chelsea the lead from the penalty spot, converting after Lorenz Assignon had fouled Mykhailo Mudryk and been shown a second yellow card, whilst a furious Vincent Kompany was also dismissed from the touchline for remonstrating.

But Pochettino was left to rue another frustrating result when, minutes after Palmer had made it 2-1, Dara O’Shea got forward from a corner, evaded everybody in blue inside the box and headed the ball through the clumsy grasp of goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic to salvage the visitors a point.

“Today we didn’t show the capacity, the energy, the hunger,” said Pochettino. “Not the minimum to compete in the Premier League. In defensive phases, we concede too much.

“That is why I’m so upset and disappointed. It’s more here (in the heart) and here (in the head) than in your legs. It’s about being strong like a group, strong like a team.

“We are too slow evolving in this area. That was the key today. The team played well, we had energy. When we have the ball, we go forwards.

“But when we didn’t have the ball, we don’t have the same energy. Today, sorry, I am not happy with the performance when we don’t have the ball.

“It’s difficult to accept not to win. It was a must-win game to be in a position to attack (the table).”

At five games, Chelsea’s unbeaten league run is now the longest they have enjoyed in almost 18 months, but there was little positive cheer shown by fans at the end towards Pochettino and his players.

In failing to beat the Premier League’s second-bottom side, they lost further ground in what looks an increasingly doomed bid to qualify for Europe via their league placing.

Pochettino felt that his team’s problems in turning performances into points ultimately had a psychological root.

“(The players) need to realise that competing is different to playing football,” he said. “We can be there and play, but we need to increase our level.

“It’s not about blaming the players. Maybe we (the coaching staff) need to be tougher with them.

“We need to be more ruthless, find better communication, be more competitive.

“We are missing something. That’s why we are where we are. When we don’t have the ball we need to increase our capacity to recover it.”

Burnley’s assistant manager Craig Bellamy reflected on a performance of which the travelling supporters could be proud.

“To be able to show the patience they showed, working together, the organisation, the commitment, you couldn’t be nothing short of proud watching it,” he said.

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