Chelsea beat Aston Villa to ease pressure on Pochettino

Chelsea beat Aston Villa to ease pressure on Pochettino

© AFP 2022
February 7, 2024 at 10:03 PM
Chelsea beat Aston Villa to ease the pressure on manager Mauricio Pochettino (left)
Chelsea beat Aston Villa to ease the pressure on manager Mauricio Pochettino (left). Photo: Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Source: AFP

Chelsea eased the spotlight on manager Mauricio Pochettino with a dominant 3-1 win at Aston Villa to reach the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday.

Conor Gallagher, Nicolas Jackson and Enzo Fernandez struck for the Blues at Villa Park to banish memories of a 4-2 home defeat to Wolves on Sunday.

Chelsea were booed off by a disgruntled home support at the weekend as Wolves' rout followed a 4-1 thrashing at Liverpool a week ago.

With Pochettino's men languishing in 11th in the Premier League, an early FA Cup exit would have further ramped up the pressure on the Argentine.

Pochettino insisted on Tuesday he would not lose his hair over the stress of the job and made some bold calls with his team selection.

Thiago Silva was dropped to the bench just hours after his wife apologised for a social media outburst in which she called for "change" at the club.

Raheem Sterling was also left out on a night when a number of Chelsea's expensive young guns stood up to be counted.

But it was one of the club's academy graduates who got the ball rolling.

Gallagher smashed home from close range after the ball broke his way from Jackson's purposeful burst down the left.

Jackson was making his first start since returning from Senegal's disappointment at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The 22-year-old has been guilty of missing some glaring chances early in his Chelsea career, but was deadly with a downward header from Malo Gusto's cross to double his side's lead.

Villa were unbeaten in 17 home Premier League games dating back nearly a year until Newcastle won at Villa Park a week ago.

But Unai Emery's men have exited both domestic cup competitions limply at home this season.

Emery named his strongest available side despite sitting fourth in the Premier League and being favourites to win the Europa Conference League.

However, the tie was over before the hour mark as Fernandez's stunning free-kick made it 3-0.

Rumours in recent days have suggested the Argentine World Cup winner could be looking for an exit, just over a year since his then British transfer record move from Benfica.

But Fernandez gestured to suggest he is staying put after curling past international teammate Emi Martinez into the top corner.

Pochettino has the chance to mark a difficult first season in charge with his first trophy in English football when Chelsea face Liverpool in the League Cup final on February 25.

And they will be confident of reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Cup when they host second-tier Leeds in the fifth round.

Villa got a consolation goal in stoppage time when Moussa Diaby fired in off the post, but it was too little, too late for the home side.

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© AFP 2022 photo
© AFP 2022