HomePochettino: EFL Cup final an important milestone for young Blues

Pochettino: EFL Cup final an important milestone for young Blues

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Mauricio Pochettino said reaching the EFL Cup final could be an important landmark for his young Chelsea side after Tuesday’s 6-1 semi-final rout of Middlesbrough at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea began the second leg of their last-four tie under huge pressure following a 1-0 defeat in the first leg at the Riverside Stadium two weeks ago, when the Blues squandered several clear chances.

However, they made light work of turning the tie around, taking advantage of a series of Middlesbrough mistakes to race into a 4-0 lead before half-time.

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Cole Palmer netted twice and was joined on the scoresheet by Enzo Fernandez, Axel Disasi and Noni Madueke, while Jonny Howson put through his own net and Morgan Rogers scored a consolation goal for Middlesbrough late on.

Chelsea will now have the chance to lift their first trophy under the Todd Boehly regime when they face either Liverpool or Fulham in next month’s final, and Pochettino says reaching the Wembley Stadium showpiece was a crucial step for his young team.

“It’s very important. We have a young team, we need to grow,” Pochettino told Sky Sports after the win. “Even playing against Middlesbrough… it’s a good experience for our young players.

“Step by step, we are building a very good team. The mentality is good, but it needs time. In the first six months I was never disappointed with the performances, it was always that we were not clinical in front of goal.

“The team deserve all the credit. It’s a new project. When you’re building a team, sometimes its normal to play worse than we have been. We often played well and didn’t get results.

“We are doing fantastic, people need to believe in us, and now we’re in the final, we have the possibility to win the first trophy of the season.”

Pochettino reserved particular praise for Palmer, who missed three glaring chances in the first leg but bounced back with a man-of-the-match performance on Tuesday.

“He’s a player with amazing talent, he understands the game and has the talent to see different situations, to read the game in all aspects,” Pochettino said of Palmer.

“He’s so versatile, he can play from the right or behind the striker. He’s very dynamic so we try to give him freedom to move – in every situation he can find the best position to help the team.

“One of his best characteristics is his intuition when we don’t have the ball, to press. He’s a young player but he’s doing very well for us.”

Palmer himself, meanwhile, was relieved to banish his first-leg misses with Tuesday’s double, which took him to 11 goals in 24 appearances for the Blues across all competitions.

“After the first game we knew it would be difficult, but to get the win and go to Wembley for the first time this season, it’s going to be a good day,” Palmer said.

“I missed three sitters in the first game, so it was always in the back of my mind coming into this one. To score two and go to Wembley, I’m happy.

“We’ve not had the best of starts, there is no hiding from that, but it’s a great opportunity to get a trophy and we’re looking forward to it.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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