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Cole Palmer saved woeful Pochettino with his hat-trick vs Man United 

Chelsea claimed a stunning 4-3 win over Manchester United thanks to an excellent performance from PFA Young Player of the Year frontrunner Cole Palmer. 

The Blues came from 3-2 down to clinch a memorable win at Stamford Bridge in Fergie time. It was Chelsea’s first win over Man United since 2017.

Palmer dispatched two penalties and his late strike earned Chelsea three points when it had slipped away.

While the climatic finish to the game may have made fans forget what transpired over 90 minutes, this was another sorely poor tactical showing from Mauricio Pochettino and stands as more evidence that the Argentine coach is a poor fit for this squad despite the win.

Lower blocks work for this team – why doesn’t he employ it more often?

In the early moments of the clash, United took the momentum and forced Chelsea deep, but it suited Pochettino’s men as they closed gaping spacing holes.

Chelsea is not a well-drilled tactical side that understands angles and relativity a la Arsenal so simply sitting deep promoted the closeness they needed to block spaces and hit United on the counter.

Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez sat deep and blocked the usually porous centre of the park. Chelsea’s first goal came from a situation where the team was in a mid-block, as opposed to their gung-ho/uncoordinated high press. 

The second goal (from the penalty spot) also came from a situation where Chelsea sat deep and sprang forward. 

This Chelsea squad is an inexperienced bunch, and a deeper block helps to eliminate mounds of space they could potentially fail to defend. It begs the question, why doesn’t Pochettino employ a deeper block more often?

Caicedo and Fernandez in the Chelsea centre are not the most athletic, and it would make more sense if they sat deep and protected the space behind them in games. They would provide better screening for the tenuous defence. 

However, the manager has continuously insisted on an unsustainable attacking brand of football that leaves the team susceptible.

Glaring lack of control 

With Chelsea two up after 20 minutes inside Stamford Bridge and cruising to an easy win, you would not find one home fan at SW6 who believed their side could see out the game. 

Pochettino’s side has shown time and time again that they cannot control games, and it is why they have spurned leads to Brentford, Leicester City, Newcastle United, Burnley, Manchester City, and Wolverhampton Wanderers in recent matches.

The Blues don’t have the know-how to manage opposition momentum. They are not tactically disciplined enough to handle pressure and almost always crumble under it. 

Individual mistakes from Caicedo and Benoit Badiashile helped United to get back into the game, but it is clear Pochettino has no tactical plan to help the team sort out these errors. 

The goals they conceded further highlighted why Chelsea need to be organised in a deeper block, as it would eliminate the space United exploited. 

Chelsea lost their heads, and the midfield pivot was so high trying to press Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane, allowing goalkeeper Andre Onana to find players in the centre, eliminating the Blues’ tactless press. 

Chelsea failed to control the game and looked in disarray trying to retake what they had given up.

Temper celebrations with scrutiny

While Pochettino will be lauded for the dramatic 4-3 win, the underlying tactical issues remain. 

Chelsea fans will savour this victory and hope Palmer’s heroics can spark a turnaround in fortunes. 

However, they would be wise not to get carried away, as the bigger test lies in Pochettino addressing the team’s vulnerabilities and forging a system that gets the best out of his talented but inexperienced group.

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