Pochettino: It’s going to be tough but we can compete

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  • Post published:May 15, 2024

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino believes his side can compete for European qualification after turning around their season.

With three straight victories in the Premier League, Pochettino’s team has moved up to seventh place in the standings and improved their chances of qualifying for Europe the following year.

With two games remaining, Chelsea has a higher goal differential than Manchester United and is tied for sixth place with Newcastle. They are also three points clear of the Red Devils.

A seventh place finish might also enough, provided United loses to Manchester City in the FA Cup later this month. Finishing in the top six will secure a spot in either the Conference League or the Europa League the following season.

Pochettino struggled to get a group of inexperienced players to gel together and Chelsea only won three of their first ten league games.

Nonetheless, given that his team has only lost once in their last 13 top-flight games, the Argentine thinks their trend is unquestionably improving.

“The most important thing is to believe and I think the team is doing really well. In the last 26 games we have been doing really well and we need to keep doing it in this way.

“It is going to be tough but I really believe we can compete in the next two games, and having the possibility of playing in Europe would be amazing for us.”

Prior to recent weeks, Pochettino’s status as the manager of the upcoming campaign was even questionable.

But on Saturday, they rallied from behind to win 3-2 at Nottingham Forest after comfortable wins at home against West Ham and Tottenham, two rivals in London.

“We are punished because of the first 10 games. If you start to count after our 10th game I think we are in the top four,” added Pochettino.

“I want to be positive and I don’t want to talk anymore (about a lack of experience). From next season I don’t want to say that we are young, I want to talk about a different issue.”

Pochettino has even more good news: several important players will be back from injury in time for the team’s trips to Brighton on Wednesday and Bournemouth on Sunday to wrap off the season.

Nicolas Jackson’s winning goal at Forest was set up by captain Reece James, who came off the bench. In the last two games, attacker Christopher Nkunku has made a comeback as a substitute.

Pochettino, though, does not anticipate either player to begin at Brighton.

“The players that have arrived from injury need time and we don’t have time. We need to play and start games with players who can cope for 90 minutes,” he added.

“We will see if the injured players can cope with some minutes (on Wednesday). We have the names and bodies, but they are not 100 percent to play and cope with the demands of the Premier League for 90 minutes at the moment.”