Why Mauricio Pochettino is underperforming at Chelsea and how he can fix things

Mauricio Pochettino's Chelsea have conceded in their last nine Premier League games.
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Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino thinks throwing more money at his team will solve the problems, but there is enough evidence to suggest he's underachieving and that there's little to show he deserves the backing he's calling for.

Last summer Liverpool competed with Chelsea for the signings of both Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia. The highly-talented duo opted for west London instead of Merseyside, which was supposed to be Chelsea's turning point, a confidence boost and a knockout to a direct rival. But four months on, Liverpool have emerged with an arguably inferior midfield yet a better team and are top of the league. That is down to Jurgen Klopp.

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Pochettino and Chelsea won the summer transfer battle but it is Klopp and Liverpool who are having the last laugh, and all the data points to the fact that the Argentine manager is just not getting the best out of his expensively-assembled side. He told a room packed with journalists after his seventh defeat of the season at Everton: “After four or five months and 16 Premier League games, it is [time to] assess.

"If we are not capable today with all the chances that we had — we need to score if we want to be in a different position in the table. If we are not aggressive enough, maybe we need to do something, some movement. That is something to analyse with the sporting directors and the owners and see what we can do to change this dynamic and change in the second part of the season."

The problem with this statement is that Pochettino thinks Chelsea's problems are down to his failing strikers Nicolas Jackson and Armando Broja but in every elite team, goals should flow from all over the pitch.

He doesn't have to look far for answers, Tottenham lost Harry Kane in the summer and Richarlison has only just scored his first league brace since joining from Everton over a year ago, but Spurs are full of chances. When they lose games, fans go home wondering why they can't just put away teams. You won't get that at Chelsea. The Blues don't create enough to lay the blame solely on the strikers.

Why dominating possession doesn't mean dominating games

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After the defeat at Everton, Pochettino also claimed his team were the better side and deserved something from the game. He said: "Today I think we were better than Everton and we feel disappointed and maybe frustrated because we weren't clinical in front of the goal and we didn't create more chances than we did."

Chelsea had more possession than Everton, but there is a difference between dominating a game and dominating possession. Teams allow Chelsea to have more of the ball because they know they just don't have what it takes to hurt them.

Games are won in the two boxes and if you're not scoring enough, you have to make sure you're not conceding, and at this stage in the season, Chelsea are not scoring enough and can't keep a clean sheet. They have conceded in their last nine league games despite the manager constantly rotating his backline.

They have squad balance issues and co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart, as well as owners Toddy Boehly and Behdad Eghbali have tough questions to answer. The squad still has more than enough quality not to lose to teams like Nottingham Forest, Brentford, Everton, Aston Villa, West Ham and even Manchester United, who by all accounts are struggling but enjoyed their best game of the season against Pochettino's side. Bournemouth's gutsy display a few days later only highlighted how poor Chelsea were.

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It's easy to say the strikers are not scoring but Jackson has more goals than Richarlison, Rasmus Højlund, Julián Álvarez and Gabriel Jesus but Tottenham, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal have all found more ways to win games than the Blues. In a functional team, the role of the striker is not just to score goals- so something is fundamentally wrong.

How he can fix things

The midfield balance is just not right. The heart of every team is in the middle of the park, and that is where the goals are made and games controlled. Chelsea have a midfield trio who just don't score or create goals. After a year, Enzo Fernandez, who was supposed to be the creative force, only bagged his first brace against Brighton.

Caicedo got two in his two years at Brighton and Gallagher's best goal-scoring season came at Crystal Palace when he fired in eight. He's still waiting for his first goal this season despite being the best of the trio in terms of career goals scored. Chelsea will benefit from Pochettino dropping one of his favourites and playing a proper playmaker. Cole Palmer is the closest profile, even though Carney Chukwuemeka was doing a good job before his injury. He needs to find a midfielder who knows how to create a chance and score a goal. That will make a big difference.

Unai Emery's success at Aston Villa is evidence that good coaching improves players. The same team he's got challenging for the Premier League were headed for relegation when he walked through the door, and straight away he's been able to get a tune out of them. Chelsea's squad is not perfect, but there is no doubt they are underachieving and that is on the manager.

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