Pochettino says 'we all need to prove we belong' at Chelsea

<a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Chelsea;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Chelsea</a> manager Mauricio Pochettino is looking to salvage the club's season (Glyn KIRK)
Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino is looking to salvage the club's season (Glyn KIRK)

Mauricio Pochettino said he and his struggling Chelsea players must use the final weeks of their dismal season to prove they deserve to stay at the club.

The Blues' 5-0 hammering by Premier League leaders Arsenal on Tuesday was Chelsea's heaviest defeat in more than five years.

That humiliation came days after an FA Cup semi-final exit at the hands of Manchester City left them facing a third straight season without major domestic or European silverware.

There is still the possibility of qualification for next season's Europa League or Conference League.

But in the aftermath of their capitulation at the Emirates Stadium, Chelsea boss Pochettino has been left to pick up an emotionally bruised squad accused of lacking fight.

The Argentine said a critical month lies ahead, not only for him but for his players if they are to convince the club's hierarchy that they deserve a future at Stamford Bridge.

"It looks like only I need to prove (myself), no?" he said. "Always it's about the coach needs to prove he deserves to be here next season.

"(But) we are all responsible for the situation. We all need to prove that we deserve to be here next season."

Pochettino said he expects to have Cole Palmer available for Saturday's trip to fourth-placed Aston Villa after the league's joint-top scorer missed the Arsenal defeat through illness.

But Chelsea's overall injury situation shows no sign of improving. As many as 12 players are likely to be missing for the Villa game, with Raheem Sterling and Carney Chukwuemeka the latest doubts.

Enzo Fernandez will miss the rest of the season after undergoing groin surgery.

Pochettino faces an uphill task with a threadbare squad as he tries to chase down possible salvation in the shape of a European place.

However, he was adamant that whatever obstacles stand in Chelsea's way, lack of motivation among the players was not one of them.

"If we think we are responsible for motivating the players? Wow -- that is difficult to accept," he said. "If you play for Chelsea, the motivation is there even if you play a friendly.

"If you ask me 'do we need to motivate the players to play tomorrow, or after tomorrow?', then I think we have a big problem. I don't believe motivation is the problem.

"The problem is having the capacity to perform. We cannot give them excuses not to perform and be focused.

"But at the same time, we are a group of people. We are not machines. Some circumstances, you lose a bit of reference of things."