Mauricio Pochettino goes all-in as Chelsea target Carabao Cup success to revive ailing season

Mauricio Pochettino goes all-in as Chelsea target Carabao Cup success to revive ailing season

Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea had no hiding place in this must-win match at home to Blackburn.

A return to disappointing league form had made this meeting with Championship opposition in one of the middle rounds of the Carabao Cup surprisingly important for the manager and his team.

That was reflected in Pochettino's line-up as just Levi Colwill, Thiago Silva and Moises Caicedo were afforded rests with returning duo Reece James and Benoit Badiashile stepping in, along with young midfielder Lesley Ugochukwu.

Confidence rebuilt before Spurs?

Chelsea were the better team and deserved the win but this was far from a complete and dominant display.

Blackburn troubled their rivals despite the huge disparity in resources between the two teams.

Individual players may have found it useful, like Raheem Sterling and Enzo Fernandez, who excelled. However, Jackson continued to struggle and goalkeeper Robert Sanchez had a shaky moment.

Chelsea booked their spot in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
Chelsea booked their spot in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Reece James kickstarts his engine

It always takes James time to get going following injury as he understandably plays cautiously when he returns from one of his increasingly common lay-offs.

However, at times, you saw the club captain's exceptional quality at Stamford Bridge. Three dangerous long-range shots and his ease of manipulating the football left Blackburn constantly wary of his presence.

He has been missed and, slowly, is coming back.

Pochettino is all-in on the cup

The Argentine made the decision to disappoint his second string and youth players, who may have expected to get some minutes in the cup.

This is because he knows Chelsea need to keep fighting for something, with the lingering likelihood that their league campaign is heading towards another mid-table finish.

Silverware would reap both respect and a backdoor into Europe if he falls short in the Premier League.

Alex Matos was the only exception on a night of senior players taking on a second-tier team, getting the last five minutes at Stamford Bridge having made his debut against Fulham in the Premier League.