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Home   /   He’s as Cole as ice: is Man City’s academy graduate the answer to Pochettino’s prayers?

Some absolutely fascinating Premier League action to talk about across the weekend and most fans will be upset an international break has put a halt on pure Barclays-like heritage.

Just some of the madness included an injury struck Newcastle lost out to Bournemouth, a side with only one win to their name prior to the game and Wolves beat title contenders Tottenham.

Domonic Solanke netted two in the game and marked his 100th appearance.

Amidst all this chaos though the most exciting result was undoubtedly Chelsea drawing 4-4 with Manchester City at home. The complete mess of the Blues 4-1 win against 9 men Spurs must have spiked some faith into this Chelsea side, as they seemed a team charged with confidence and fight this time out.

Chelsea fans saw a team similar to that of Tommy Tuchel’s renaissance, a side not to be undermined. The heart of the players under Pochettino on Sunday reflected what change the money spent in summer can really make.

Much controversy was sparked even prior to kick off, with it being announced last Tuesday and 5 days before the game that Anthony Taylor would be officiating the fixture. Chelsea fans couldn’t get flashbacks out of their head from decisions he’s made against them in his officiating career. From the Kovacic red card in the FACup Final, to the Reece James “handball”, vs Liverpool, there was a sense of dread around the game surrounding Anthony Taylor and what decisions he might give – many fans will now argue he lived up to these poor expectations.

Chelsea boss was seen arguing with referee Anthony Taylor at full time.

The controversy began after a Bernado Silva cross was cleared by Thiago Silva and Anthony Taylor awarded a penalty for a foul on Haaland by Cucurella. The two were equally rustling in the box but City were given the decision and Haaland dispatched from the spot kick no problem.

Haaland dispatches penalty and his 48th Premier League goal in 47 games.

Chelsea had only won once after going behind in the Premier League this season and to do it against Pep’s City seemed an almost impossible task. Veteran Silva soon proved this wrong just three minutes later when he nodded the ball across the keeper from a corner.

Old but gold – 39 year old Thiago Silva has aged like fine wine at Chelsea

Palmer then slipped a pass through to Reece James that left Gvardiol in two minds and a brilliant low cross found Sterling at the back post, who slotted it past Ederson. Sterling is a man in fine form and was causing serious problems against the City defence. Shortly after the goal he darts at City’s defence taking on three players in his wake, laying it off to Jackson, who doesn’t put enough on it to trouble Ederson. A gorgeous cross then finds Akanji, who prods it out of Sanchez’s reach not long after Sterling’s goal.

Haaland answered again, putting City 3-2 up after finishing a cross from Alvarez. It seemed City would see Chelsea out of the game but Poch’s squad kept fighting and their efforts were answered after Nicolas Jackson responded to a poor save from Ederson, making it 3-3. The man to equalise the first was unfortunately the same man to be at fault for City’s fourth goal, when his loose leg caused a Rodri shot to deflect into the bottom left corner.

Chelsea again were not complacent, using the likes of Palmer and Sterling to dart at the City defence and create gaps in their midfield and holes in their defence. Substitute Armando Broja latched onto a clipped pass from Sterling and was then fouled by Diaz, who caught him with his trailing leg.

Super sub – Broja won the final penalty when he was fouled by Ruben Dias.

There was only one man to grab a well deserved point for Chelsea and this was none other than former City player Cole Palmer. The Englishman has scored 4 of his 4 penalties this season now and along with this registered 4 assists.

The fixture was pure box office stuff and both teams can be happy with the result but Chelsea will likely come away from the game with a resurgence in confidence. The blues have many positive points to take from the draw. Reece James looks better after his injury left him out for months – he’s been a largely missed key figure this season but with him back from injury and Chillwell should be back by January so Chelsea look to improve their attacking reinforcements again.

All this without the mention of Christopher Nkunku, who scored 3 goals in 4 preseason games and was a real attacking threat for Poch. With the international break underway, it seems Nkunku will be back for the return of the Premier League as Chelsea face Newcastle. The Frenchman was spotted in training last week and Chelsea gaffer states he will be “ready for Newcastle”.

Nkunku is seen with Sterling training – these two could create nightmares for defenders when the Frenchman returns.

A big subject taken from the game was that of Cole Palmer, he was superb going forward and it seemed almost all of Chelsea’s attacks went through him. He kept his cool when it mattered most in the final moments but his inner steel towards the end was just a glimpse of what he can do at just 21 years of age. Chelsea are let to lose against a “big 6 ” side this season and the likes of Cole Palmer and Sterling being forward assets are key to this.

City played a compact midfield that when going forward also had the support of Walker or Akanji who can both support the attack. However, as John Stones is currently out it seems Poch must have seen this as a weak point because when the play transitioned to Chelsea attacking, they were nothing short of perfect. They had Gallagher quickly switching the tempo with progressive passes towards Sterling and Palmer who were quick to also carry the ball forward. This fast tempo of changeover meant City had to find their shape again much quicker than what they might be used to against other teams in the league.

Gallagher was vital to winning the ball in his own half and then finding holes in City’s midfield before they had time to regroup. This is something Gallagher has been excellent at this season and is on his way to replacing Chelsea’s successor in midfield, N’golo Kante. It was clear how important Kante was to Chelsea but Gallagher is doing a great job at slowly fulfilling this role – considering how important Kante was, this is not an easy task. Sterling also was running rampant again, taking on Walker with ease and drawing defenders out to him – something very few attackers have managed this season.

Connor Gallagher celebrates the result.

Palmer was recently added to the England squad and his performance against the league leaders proved why he deserves it. He wasn’t happy at Man City not playing games and his hunger to play has paid off so he could show his true ability and why Pochettino spent the money on him.

Southgate adds Palmer to his England squad.

The game was a true spectacle and Chelsea are significantly improving, even with their injury and young squad potentially being a set back. Unfortunately now begins another -international break but we can only hope for games as entertaining as the most recent.

Chelsea have shown willingness to challenge the top teams in the league and dominate the transitions despite being mid-table but Pochettino is set to face Newcastle on the 25th of November, then Brighton then Manchester United. However, Chelsea are let to lose against any of the “big 6”, so it’s likely they will be hopeful for.

Reece James looks sharper since his return – pictured with Moises Caicedo.

Poch looks to be building a team incredibly fast in transitions that causes even the best teams such as Manchester City or Tottenham to lose their defensive shape and with James looking fitter again, Nkunku and Colwill hopefully back in two weeks and Chilwell is set to return by January, Chelsea will likely be competing for top 4 again. 

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June 2024