Mauricio Pochettino previews Chelsea's clash with Nottingham Forest
Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino was left scratching his head on Saturday as Nottingham Forest came away from Stamford Bridge with a 1-0 win. More than three times as many shots and significantly more possession ultimately counted for nothing, leaving the Argentine with just one win from his first four Premier League matches at the helm. Here, Express Sport takes you through four key talking points from the contest…
Blues face Harry Maguire situation
Last season, Manchester United left their captain Harry Maguire to collect dust on the bench. The impressive performances of Malo Gusto may just put Chelsea on the same path. Newly-appointed skipper Reece James is currently out with injury, and he could be in for a tough time if the youngster continues his hot streak.
Although his tidy dribbling, thought-out decision making and neat passing from right wing-back were not enough for Chelsea to win the game on Saturday, 20-year-old Gusto certainly did his reputation no harm with an exciting first-half display against the Tricky Trees that had supporters purring.
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Forest super-sub strikes again
Anthony Elanga has been superb coming off the bench for Forest so far this season. He’s had to make a habit of it, too, with manager Steve Cooper yet to throw the former Manchester United man in from the start.
Brought on after an injury to Danilo, Elanga made a speedy impact by scoring the winner at the beginning of the second half, racing through to latch onto Taiwo Awoniyi’s perfectly-weighted pass before slotting past Robert Sanchez.
The Swede was similarly eye-catching against Arsenal last month when he sped past the back-line and assisted Awoniyi, proving on both occasions that he can me a major asset to Forest this campaign.
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Awoniyi’s dream run ends
Not many Premier League players can claim to have scored in seven consecutive games. The likes of Thierry Henry and Wayne Rooney can only stand and applaud Forest frontman Awoniyi for his remarkable achievement, although he was unable to extend it towards Jamie Vardy’s 11-game run in west London.
His nutmeg assist for Elanga was superb, adding to goals against Man Utd, Sheffield United and Arsenal earlier this season, but the run was officially over when Cooper hauled Awoniyi off with half an hour to play.
Enzo left wanting
Chelsea faced all too familiar problems against Forest, with a lack of potency up top proving the difference at Stamford Bridge. Enzo Fernandez was a composed and creative presence in the midfield, and he set up Nicolas Jackson numerous times, only for the forward to spurn his opportunities.
Even the introduction of £40million signing Cole Palmer failed to turn the tide for Pochettino’s side. The youngster played primarily on the right-hand side of a narrow front-three as Chelsea threw the kitchen sink at Forest, regularly taking up central positions and dropping deep.
But for all their talent in the middle of the park, the Blues couldn’t quite knit it all together in the final third. Their persistent attacking issues were exemplified in the final 10 minutes, when Jackson blazed over from point-blank range.
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