Premier League • England

Seven players Pochettino must rely on to avoid Chelsea sack: Fernandez, Palmer, Petrovic…

Mauricio Pochettino, Enzo Fernandez, Cole Palmer, Djordje Petrovic, Chelsea

Enzo Fernandez, Cole Palmer and Djordje Petrovic can help save Mauricio Pochettino from the Chelsea sack

Pressure is ramping up on Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino as a result of some poor performances from his side in recent weeks.

They got thumped 4-1 by a Liverpool side missing a couple of key players, before Wolves also hit them for four in a 4-2 victory after the Blues had gone 1-0 up.

Those two scores mean Chelsea have conceded four times in successive league games for the first time since 1989 – not a record Pochettino will look too fondly on.

TEAMtalk sources state he is in danger of being sacked after the Wolves loss, with the hierarchy at Stamford Bridge carefully considering his position.

The manager needs some of his players to step up and others to keep the pace – here, TEAMtalk picks out seven Chelsea players Pochettino needs to rely on to save his job.

Mykhailo Mudryk

You simply cannot be a near £90million signing and not pull your weight, but for the moment, that’s where Mykhailo Mudryk finds himself. Indeed, the former Shakhtar man has been directly involved in only six goals this season.

While that’s an improvement on last season, and shows he’s finding his feet, he’s still nowhere near the level Chelsea need him to be at.

Pochettino has been placed in a tough spot, as he can’t really justify consistently leaving out such an expensive asset, but on the flip side, he can’t justify playing him if he’s not going to do anything.

The solution is that Mudryk starts proving his worth and both scores and assists more regularly than he is doing at the moment.

His manager should be able to rely on him to be the player Chelsea thought he was when he was signed.

Enzo Fernandez

In a similar vein to Mudryk, Fernandez must play at a higher level than he is doing at the moment. He cost a British transfer record fee of almost £107million, and Chelsea have five goals and an assist from him to show for it this season.

One redeeming factor is two of those goals have come in the Carabao Cup, a competition the Blues have reached the final of.

Fernandez has frequently turned it on in the competition, and has been one of the driving forces in them making it to the final. If he helps Pochettino bring home silverware, that could go a long way for the manager’s standing with the board.

Fernandez is clearly a very good player with a very high ceiling, and on his day, he can change a game on his own – more of that is needed on a more consistent basis.

Cole Palmer

Pochettino has been reliant on Cole Palmer a lot this season, and the former Manchester City man has delivered. He’s the Blues’ top goalscorer with 12 goals in all competitions, as well as seven assists.

The 21-year-old has played well above the level of the majority of his teammates this season, and is on course for a very healthy goals return if he continues in his current vein.

Not only will that reflect well on him, but it could be a big factor in whether Pochettino stays or goes. Indeed, Palmer has shown time and time again this season that he’s capable of grabbing a game by the scruff of the neck and winning it for his side.

There have been four Premier League games this season in which he’s scored or assisted more than one goal, and on each occasion Chelsea have won.

The equation is simple: get the ball to Palmer as much as possible and you win more games. You’d suggest Pochettino probably wants to try more of that.

Djordje Petrovic

Djordje Petrovic would have been something of an unknown entity before he debuted for Chelsea in Robert Sanchez’s absence. He was signed as a backup after 22 MLS games for New England Revolution last season, having never played in a top-five European league.

But he’s been a very useful asset since he took the gloves after Sanchez got injured.

There have been four games in all competitions since he took over that Petrovic has saved 100 per cent of the shots he has faced – three of those contributed to Blues wins and one to a draw. He also made nine saves against Liverpool in the recent 4-1 loss, meaning the margin of defeat could have been much heavier without him.

He’s done so well that he might get to keep the gloves when Sanchez returns from injury, and could retain his spot indefinitely.

That would allow Chelsea to pump funds they were looking to spend on a goalkeeper elsewhere, such as a new striker – perhaps Victor Osimhen, who could flip their fortunes next season.

As such, Pochettino’s decision to play Petrovic might have a domino effect towards a very good outcome if he continues on current form.

Christopher Nkunku

It’s probably fair to assume that had Christopher Nkunku been fit since the day he joined Chelsea, they would not be in the mire they are currently in. Indeed, in his first four appearances in the league, the Frenchman scored twice.

If he can score twice with limited minutes from the bench – and prove a nuisance while doing so – it’s not hard to imagine what he could do for his side once he’s able to start consistently.

He showed last season at RB Leipzig what he’s capable of, with 16 goals and six assists in 25 games, so once he’s fully up to speed at Stamford Bridge off the back of his injury struggles, he could be a man Pochettino can call upon to make a big impact.

Ben Chilwell

In his first campaign with Chelsea, Ben Chilwell netted three goals and provided five assists in 27 Premier League games from left-back. The following season, in seven games – owing to injury troubles – the Englishman scored three times and assisted once.

That highlights how much of a quality asset he is on his day, but his day has not come very often at all this term.

Granted, Chilwell has played just nine league games, with a hamstring problem keeping him out of action for a good chunk of the season. However, in the six games before his injury and the three games since, he’s not been close to his best.

Once he gets back to that, as a leader, marauding down the left flank, Pochettino will have a very fierce asset, but he needs to get back to that level as soon as possible for his side.

Thiago Silva

That Thiago Silva‘s wife stated it’s “time for change” after Chelsea lost 4-2 to Wolves suggests things might not be in fantastic shape between the defender and Pochettino.

While Silva is not likely to say it, if his wife thinks the manager should be on his way, it would not be a surprise if he thought so too.

But Pochettino needs the defender. He’s a leader in the Chelsea dressing room – he’s 39 years old, has won the Champions League with them and made almost 150 appearances, a tally which includes starts in all but two Premier League games this season.

He can rally the troops and ensure they back the manager all the way, while continuing to put in strong performances in his 19th season of senior football.

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