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The Ben Jacobs Chelsea FC column!
Chelsea’s 3-1 win at Aston Villa in the FA Cup was superb. All three goals were clinical finishes, and the Enzo free-kick had a bit of Messi magic about it.
Enzo’s celebration said it all. There was a collective outpouring of passion from a group of players wanting to not just prove a point but quieten the noise.
I think a fair few players feel aggrieved by some of the media coverage surrounding Chelsea. Even Mauricio Pochettino has said he’s sick of constantly having to explain about the young squad, injuries and developing project.
And it is all too easy to judge Chelsea’s players by their price tags alone and not the current reality. Enzo is a great example. He became a £105m player overnight but his market value at the time was £60m, and even that had spiked up considerably after he won the World Cup with Argentina. Less than two years ago he was valued at less than £20m.
Things have happened so fast for Enzo, he's really had very little time to settle and been under scrutiny from day one. He's done pretty well so far, but the best is yet to come. The point is Enzo has to grow into his price tag rather than be seen as a finished product. And that’s exciting because he still has huge potential to get even better. Hopefully the Villa goal will help him.
Yet it’s also fair to say the pressure has mounted in recent weeks because Chelsea haven’t done the basics right at times; so it isn’t only about these other factors that either require time or have conspired against the project.
Chelsea have missed a string of big chances all season and in some losses been second best in duels or just not alert to second balls. That was the main issue in the 4-2 loss to Wolves, and what made Villa so markedly different.
The feeling remains that Pochettino’s job is in no immediate danger. Chelsea still want to ideally review his performance in this two way ‘appraisal’ at the end of the season if they possibly can. And again, it’s important to note this was pre-planned before a ball was even kicked.
Part of the reason for this is that Chelsea are entering into the final summer of a four-window recruitment plan. And it’s likely to be the most crucial window to date despite the huge spending that has already taken place.