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We’re our worst enemies: Pochettino wants Chelsea to focus on own performances

Mauricio Pochettino admitted his players have been their own worst enemies during an inconsistent start by Chelsea (John Walton/PA)
Mauricio Pochettino admitted his players have been their own worst enemies during an inconsistent start by Chelsea (John Walton/PA)

Mauricio Pochettino believes his players have been their own worst enemies this season after Chelsea’s recent good form was derailed by last weekend’s thrashing at Newcastle.

The 4-1 loss on Tyneside came after the team had given arguably their two most promising performances of the season, first winning by the same score away at previously unbeaten Tottenham, then in drawing a frenetic match 4-4 against Premier League and European champions Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.

Yet at St. James’s Park they were routed by Eddie Howe’s side, with Pochettino admitting to feeling angry and disappointed at the manner in which his players capitulated in the second half against a Newcastle team ravaged by injuries.

Inconsistency has been a thorn in the manager’s side since he took over in July, with only four wins in 13 league matches.

Home form has been a particular concern, with one victory so far and defeats against Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa and Brentford, though performances in earning creditable draws against Arsenal, Liverpool and City had offered cause for hope.

However, the heavy defeat to Newcastle, which was compounded by a red card for captain Reece James, has brought questions about the rate of progress under the Argentinian back to the fore ahead of welcoming Brighton to west London on Sunday.

“It was a tough week for everyone,” said Pochettino. “I’m very happy because the players reacted really well. We blame ourselves because our approach (at Newcastle) maybe was wrong.

“But the week was good to realise what we need to improve. We need to be more consistent and mature. I’m very, very happy so far. It was tough in training and in meetings, but sometimes this type of situation helps you to improve a lot.

“The important thing is not to look at the end of the season, but to see the process and to improve every day. That’s the most difficult thing always in this type of process, to be focused on today and not on tomorrow.

“We beat Tottenham, had an amazing game against Manchester City, then we lose against Newcastle. We are our worst enemies and we need to be focused on us.

Romeo Lavia
Romeo Lavia is yet to make his Chelsea debut since joining in August from Southampton (Mike Egerton/PA)

“If we are in a good place (against Brighton), I think for sure we will compete in a very good way. Brighton are not going to be the problem. We need to pay attention (to the opposition), but in this process I think we need to pay more attention to ourselves than to the opponent.”

Summer signings Christopher Nkunku and Romeo Lavia will be assessed on Saturday ahead of the Brighton game, with Pochettino confirming “they are close” to being fit enough to make long-awaited debuts.

Nkunku, a £52million capture from RB Leipzig, suffered a knee injury during a pre-season game against Borussia Dortmund, disrupting a promising start to his Chelsea career on the club’s United States tour, whilst Lavia has been out with an ankle problem and has not played since joining from Southampton.

Pochettino added that he had not held back in showing his anger to the players following the surrender to Newcastle.

“The players know very well how my mood was,” he said. “I’m not going to act. I’m not going to show a face that I don’t feel.

“I think it’s important the players feel the coaches in a natural way when we are angry, when we’re happy we’re happy. We were tough in our analysis, but tough is about telling the truth.”