Nkunku and Gusto back in Chelsea squad - might even squeeze in Jackson for trip to Liverpool
By Matthew Ferris at Cobham
Christopher Nkunku and Malo Gusto will be in the squad for Chelsea’s trip to Anfield tomorrow, providing Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino with a much-needed boost as his side look to spoil the start of Jürgen Klopp’s leaving party.
Pochettino even mentioned the possibility of a rapid return for Nicolas Jackson, who was part of Senegal’s squad in their defeat to Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations yeterday.
The Argentine said the club are still assessing whether it is logistically possible “for him to arrive” in time for the game tomorrow.
The urgency of which the club are looking to involve Jackson will surely be a worry for Armando Broja, who has failed to consolidate his starting spot this month despite being the clubs only recognised striker available.
Pochettino was asked about the what the impact of having a 20 goal a season striker would do for his team, and said: “Maybe, this type of player would have made the difference, but I think that is not a criticism, that is a reality…but we cannot go back.”
Levi Coilwill will miss the trip after suffering a minor injury on his tendon in his knee.
Trevoh Chalobah is also close to returning to full fitness, which will provide a welcome addition to the depth of the Chelsea defence.
Although the last three encounters between the sides have ended in draws, the task ahead for The Blues is a steep one.
Liverpool have lost once in the league all season, and Wednesday marks the first home league game at Anfield since Klopp announced he would be leaving at the end of the season.
Pochettino said: “It’s an amazing game for us tomorrow to play against a team that is doing really well.
“We are thinking to go there and win the game; we don’t want to be a part of the celebrations.”
While Anfield will most likely be more lively than usual, Pochettino refused to buy into the notion that the Liverpool players would raise their level in light of hearing their manager’s announcement.
He said: “It’s a tricky question because always it depends on the result and I think it’s impossible to give a right answer because who can guess what is going to happen; it’s easy after [in hindsight].
“It’s not going to change much; the players are going to be professional.”
He also had no doubts that Klopp’s enervgy levels would remain high for the rest of the season.
For Pochettino though, the fire and motivation for the whirlwind role of management in football burns brightly, and he doesn’t believe that it is the footballing side of management that burns people out.
“I think football never stresses you…it never makes you expend energy in the wrong way...I think football now is a business, and maybe that can affect the coaches a little bit.”
“Specifically, football, when I am involved in the training sessions, when we are in the game, even when we are with you [the media] here, I think we recharge the energy, you feel the boost of the energy because you love to be coach and love your job.
“It’s important to have good people around you…to know when to stop, when to go away.”
Pochettino spoke about how 15 years ago it wouldn’t have been as normal for a coach to spend 12 hours at work, but now this is the reality of coaching, which can have an impact on a coach’s ability to maintain energy levels at the top of the game.
“It’s not easy to manage because it’s nearly 24 hours, but then when you go home…it’s difficult to disconnect.
“Football is still our passion, and of course, Jürgen, after a few months away, at home for sure he’ll start to miss the adrenaline of the competition, the training sessions, his players and staff.”
When asked if he hoped to see Klopp back soon, he said: “I hope yes! He is a person that I’m going to miss; I love to watch him on the touchline and the team that he manages.”
The match tomorrow has the potential to beautifully set up the League Cup final at the end of the month, but it is also a chance for Chelsea to register their fourth consecutive Premier League win, meaning the chance of salvaging a European place would start to become a real possibility.