Following the Carabao Cup Defeat, Is Chelsea Still On Track?

Chelsea fell to a late extra-time defeat at the hands of Liverpool in the Carabao League Cup Final at Wembley on Sunday, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Pochettino’s boys in a match that The Blues must have felt they could have won.

Some will point to Liverpool going into the Wembley Final with at least nine first-team regulars, including the world-class Mohamed Salah and on-form Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota, watching from the stands through injury. Point considered, but we should remember that Liverpool, despite consistent injuries, sits atop the English Premier League, having lost only twice domestically all season.

Chelsea supporters should also remember that the best UK betting sites all installed Liverpool, despite the club’s well-publicised injury woes, as the 8/13 Carabao Cup title favourites compared to odds of 6/4 offered on the Londoners. As such, the result was a lot tighter than the bookmakers anticipated.

A Team in Transition

Like Liverpool, Chelsea is a team in transition. The difference is that a single manager has taken years to overs Liverpool’s transition. The Stamford Bridge club saw Mauricio Pochettino take over at the beginning of the season in an attempt to right a ship in turmoil, brought about by a massive player turnover since Todd Buehly assumed ownership from Roman Abramovich a few years ago.

Things may not be happening at the West London club quickly enough for some supporters, but the hard truth is that Premier League teams don’t rebuild in less than a season. We’ll use Chelsea’s Carabao Cup Final opposition as an example again. 

In the wake of the mess left by Liverpool’s previous owners, which three other managers couldn’t rectify, it still took Jurgen Klopp, recognised as one of the world’s best, over three seasons to bring silverware to Anfield. In many ways, Liverpool and Klopp’s position mirrors Chelsea and Pochettino’s.

On taking control, Boehly’s did some Fantasy Football-type buying with the best intentions, but many of the moves only further disjointed a club already rocked by the political overtones, which led to its previous owner selling. With the subsequent departure of Marina Granovskaia, Chelsea’s transfer guru, playing matters were being handled differently, also having a massive impact.

After Graham Potter’s managerial reign failed and was cut short, the host of new Chelsea players, already struggling with a lack of cohesion, would have been apprehensive regarding their and the club’s futures.

Righting the Ship

When Pochettino took over, he faced a tougher challenge than many realised. His previous affiliation with London rivals Tottenham Hotspur would have increased the already immense pressure on the Argentine’s shoulders.

Pochettino has identified a style of play suited to the players at his disposal and brought in players who have made an immediate difference, with Cole Palmer a notable reference. He has compacted the midfield, shored up the defence, and inspired the play of Conor Gallagher and Raheem Sterling, among others. 

Yes, the manager needs another top-class striker, and with Victor Osimhen’s name, among others, often connected with Chelsea, he should find this piece of the puzzle over the summer. 

With Chelsea still in the early days of transition as a club, they have a manager already making strides forward. Yes, Chelsea lost to Liverpool’s kids on Sunday but had made it to the Final. Before Pochettino arrived, not many Chelsea fans would have dreamed such a feat possible this season. 

Mauricio Pochettino, if afforded time to do so, will demand constant improvement to right the Chelsea ship and return the club to the upper echelons of the English Premier League.