Pochettino praises Gallagher as ‘key’ in Chelsea’s comeback win

Photo of Gallagher in the match Chelsea win over Crystal Palace.

Mauricio Pochettino lauded Conor Gallagher, the hero of the match, portraying him as indispensable to Chelsea after his double secured a 3-1 triumph against Crystal Palace in Monday’s Premier League clash.

Despite trailing 1-0 at halftime due to Jefferson Lerma’s remarkable goal, Gallagher swiftly equalized a minute into the second half and later clinched victory with a goal in the 91st minute. Enzo Fernández sealed the deal with a third goal in the 94th minute, securing Chelsea’s three points at Selhurst Park.

Gallagher’s first goal resulted from a skillful finish off a Malo Gusto cross, while his second saw him neatly slotting from the edge of the box. Pochettino commended Gallagher’s dedication to the team, underscoring his crucial contribution.

Despite speculation linking him with a transfer in the January window, Gallagher stayed put at Chelsea, although uncertainty looms over his long-term future as his contract expires at the end of next season. Nonetheless, Pochettino affirmed that Gallagher never contemplated leaving the club last month.

Pochettino noted that the decision regarding the player’s desire to stay at Chelsea ultimately lay with the player himself, expressing, “He conveyed to me his intention to remain at Chelsea. However, it’s primarily a matter between him and the club. I’m not overly concerned about such matters, particularly since he still has a year remaining on his contract.”

Regarding Thiago Silva’s groin injury, Pochettino mentioned that the severity would be assessed on Tuesday, as Silva was substituted off after 61 minutes. He also clarified that Malo Gusto’s absence later in the game was due to fatigue rather than injury.

Heading into this match, Pochettino’s team had displayed inconsistency in their recent performances. While they suffered defeats in the Premier League against Liverpool and Wolves, their previous outing saw them secure an impressive 3-1 victory against Aston Villa in the FA Cup. The aim for their visit to Selhurst Park was to replicate the performance showcased against Villa rather than those in their previous two Premier League fixtures.

Despite dominating possession in the first half, Chelsea managed only one off-target shot. However, they demonstrated a clinical edge in the second half, particularly after Pochettino switched to a two-striker formation with Christopher Nkunku replacing Noni Madueke at halftime.

Subsequently, Chelsea produced a match-winning display, showing the same intensity as seen against Villa. Pochettino emphasized the challenge for Chelsea to maintain consistency throughout the entire 90 minutes, stating, “That’s the level of consistency we need to achieve.”

“We need to adopt a different approach to the game, focusing on consistency and aiming to replicate the level of performance we showcased against Aston Villa. It’s a daunting challenge, but one we must confront head-on. Securing the three points was pivotal, and I’m thrilled with the result.”

Following this, Chelsea will take on Manchester City on Sunday, followed by the Carabao Cup final against Liverpool on February 25.

However, the defeat left Hodgson feeling disheartened. Crystal Palace currently sits in 15th position in the league, just five points above the relegation zone, with key players Eberechi Eze, Marc Guehi, and Michael Olise sidelined due to injuries.

“I’m not really in the mood, to be completely honest, to discuss positives and try to find words of encouragement, because I’m uncertain what could lift my spirits,” Hodgson expressed after the match.

“What can I say to boost the players’ morale? I could perhaps mention the potential return of our injured players and the promising performances of certain individuals, which indicate a brighter future for the remaining 14 games. However, we’re still unsure about the return dates for Olise and Eze, so we might face similar challenges in the upcoming matches before we can field a team capable of posing a stronger threat to our opponents than we did today.”

Despite the recent poor form, Hodgson remains confident that the team will avoid relegation, especially with January signing Adam Wharton making a positive impact in Monday’s match. The upcoming critical fixtures are against Everton and Burnley.

“It’s been a challenging period, largely due to the injury situation,” Hodgson acknowledged. “We have 14 games left, providing ample opportunities to gather points. I have faith in this group of players, and tonight’s performance has only strengthened my belief and confidence in them.”


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