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Mauricio Pochettino: Chelsea should be in the top four – the statistics prove it

Mauricio Pochettino - Mauricio Pochettino: Chelsea should be in the top four – the statistics prove it

Mauricio Pochettino has claimed Chelsea deserve to be in the top four – and says he has the statistics to back him up.

Chelsea start the weekend a lowly 11th in the Premier League but the Chelsea manager believes only “small details” have relegated them to that position, while also suggesting he knows why the club have suffered an injury crisis before refusing to elaborate.

Pochettino was bullish ahead of Saturday’s visit of Burnley to Stamford Bridge, where Pochettino had been barracked during the previous game.

Chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ greeted the substitution of Mykhailo Mudryk in the FA Cup quarter-final victory over Leicester City before an international break that saw club’s fan advisory board reject criticism of co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali in a letter released by the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust.

Mauricio Pochettino (left) and Raheem Sterling - Mauricio Pochettino: Chelsea should be in the top four – the statistics prove it
Some Chelsea fans suggested Pochettino did not know what he was doing during their last match - Action Images/Andrew Boyers

Civil war in the stands is hardly a recipe for success but Pochettino was adamant that not only did he know what he was doing but that a painful first season would mould inexperienced young players into winners.

“When we signed we knew the challenge was going to be to help not just one player but maybe 10,” he said. “That is why we are always calm and relaxed, and supportive of the project.

“Because if we are not calm and analyse every single situation in the way we are working I promise you that you would be talking today with another coach. If things were different maybe today we would not be here.

“We want the best for the club – the fans cannot be confused about this – and because we care we behave like this. Maybe they feel that is wrong or right but we know what we are doing.

“Of course we want to win the Premier League and one day it will arrive. But if not, for sure another coaching staff will arrive to win it because this process needed to happen in the way that it is happening. If not it is impossible to grow.”

Pochettino turned to the club’s number-crunching department for statistical back-up to such a claim.

“Today in football we are talking about new technology and data,” he said. “If you look at all the parameters that are used on radio, TV and in newspapers we should be in the top four.

“But for different reasons we are not there because you can shoot 20 times and if you don’t score and – like against Leicester – you receive only one shot on target and let in two goals, that is football.

“What does all the data mean? That we are in a good way. And the ways in which we need to improve are the small details that you can only get in time with experience playing together.

“It is easy to find the data when you want to ‘kill’ someone but also, when the data is good and reflects that the team is doing well but, for different reasons, is not getting the results it deserves you have to trust in the process.”

The statisticians back up his claims, to a certain extent. In terms of expected goals (xG), Chelsea are top of the table for the quality of the chances they create.

They have the league’s highest xG per shot taken (0.142), with an xG of 50.6 from their 357 shots in the Premier League so far this season. Pochettino’s side are fourth in the table for their expected goal difference as well, with only Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool ahead of them on this metric.

Why they remain in mid-table, however, is down to converting their chances. Chelsea are the fourth poorest in the league when it comes to finishing, having scored 47 goals when they were expected to score 50.6. Only three teams have a worse difference between what they were expected to score and what they have scored.

Meanwhile, Enzo Fernández is likely to start against Burnley despite only arriving back from international duty with Argentina on Thursday. Left-back Ben Chilwell is a doubt because of a knee problem sustained playing for England against Belgium on Tuesday.

Trevoh Chalobah, Carney Chukwuemeka and Robert Sánchez are also receiving treatment at a time when Levi Colwill, Wesley Fofana, Reece James, Romeo Lavia, Christopher Nkunku and Lesley Ugochukwu are all sidelined.

Lavia has been told his season is already over and the fear is that James might suffer the same fate, ruling him out of the England squad for Euro 2024.

Did Pochettino expect to be able to pick him before the end of the campaign? “I don’t know,” he admitted. “It’s difficult to say something because I don’t want you to go ‘but oh, you said this’.”

Was it also known why 2023-24 had featured so many injuries? “Yes but this is not a moment to talk,” Pochettino said. “We know why but we cannot explain. Maybe never or maybe one day but at the moment we have to be calm and be strong.

“We have a really good organisation that is trying to fix all the problems but always it is like a process, like the process to play well – to fix the situation always you need time. In time we will be able to anticipate the problems that we have.”

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