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Mauricio Pochettino highlights the importance of Monday’s match for Chelsea

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 9 Mar 2024

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Mauricio Pochettino has revealed he spent the evening of his 52nd birthday watching football with his coaching staff as they sought to “heal” from Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Brentford.

The Argentinian opted for Valencia v Real Madrid and a glass of wine over time with his family, hours after his team were booed by their own supporters at the Gtech Stadium.

Chelsea’s faint hopes of qualifying for Europe are rapidly diminishing, ahead of Monday’s Premier League game at home to Newcastle.

The meeting with Eddie Howe’s side at Stamford Bride will be the first league outing in front of their own fans since the team were jeered off at the end of a 4-2 loss to Wolves more than a month ago.

And there were signs of disquiet too during the narrow FA Cup win against Championship side Leeds.

The team’s only defeat in their last five games came after extra-time in the Carabao Cup final to Liverpool at the end of February, a run Pochettino has been keen to talk up.

However, the draw with Brentford – earned via a late Axel Disasi goal after the home side had fought back from a goal down to lead 2-1 – left the manager in no mood for celebrating his birthday.

“Saturday after the Brentford game, the draw was like a defeat,” he said.

“My coaching staff were with me at home. We finished the day watching Valencia v Real Madrid, more football. We shared a glass of wine. But nothing exciting. Only watching football.

“I think that healed, watching more football. The last few days I watched the Champions League, the Championship, the Asian Champions League.”

Asked how his wife, with whom he marked 31 years of marriage the day before Chelsea’s Christmas Eve defeat to Wolves, deals with these moments, he said: “She knows very well because the mood is not good.

“When the mood is not good, it’s not easy for the family. The responsibility is to win and provide good feelings to our fans, the people that trust in us.

“Five games we didn’t lose in 90 minutes, you could say it was a good run. But the draw with Brentford appeared again the problems.”

After Newcastle comes an FA Cup quarter-final at home to Leicester next Sunday as the team chase down their last realistic hope of salvaging a bleak season.

Pochettino would not be drawn to look ahead however, pointing instead to the need for players returning from injury to reacclimatise, particularly after Ben Chilwell, Conor Gallagher and Levi Colwill joined an already lengthy absentee list.

“The most important thing is Monday,” he said. “I don’t want to think about Leicester. It’s important because of the circumstances. We’re going have three players less.

“We’re working really hard to see how we’re going to provide balance to the team. Players coming back from injury like (Marc) Cucurella, whether he can deal with 90 minutes. Trevoh Chalobah after seven, eight months (out). We’re managing his load.

“Always it is a risk. That is why the most important is Monday.”

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