Poch defends Chelsea for giving up in Arsenal loss

Football

Mauricio Pochettino admitted Chelsea “gave up” in Tuesday’s 5-0 thrashing at Arsenal, but sought to defend his players by insisting some of the game’s greats had similar off days.

Leandro Trossard‘s fourth-minute strike opened the scoring before four goals in 18 second-half minutes — two each from Ben White and Kai Havertz — condemned the Blues to their heaviest defeat in a London derby since March 1986.

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“We talked at half-time about how it is not possible to start the game like this,” Pochettino said. “But we started [the second half] in a bad way again. We conceded two goals and in this moment, the team gave up. We were not in the game.”

Asked whether that capitulation made him question the character of some of his players, Pochettino continued: “No, it is not the character.

“I played football and I was in some similar situations with big players, experienced players. I played with [Diego] Maradona, I played with Ronaldinho, I played with [Gabriel] Batistuta. In some part of the season, these type of things can happen and you say ‘yes, these guys that were at the top, give up.’

“Sometimes because of the opponent, because of our energy, because nothing is for you in this situation and you cannot find anything positive during the game and this type of thing happens. It will happen for sure with different teams.”

While Arsenal moved four points clear of Manchester City at the top of table having played two games more — with Liverpool sandwiched between them in second place — Chelsea face a scramble to qualify for Europe after suffering their 11th defeat of the season.

“We are capable of having an amazing performance and three days after, we show the extremes,” Pochettino added. “Our standards are not sustained for the bad days. When we have bad days, we are so bad. When we are good, we are capable of everything. It is another thing we need to be aware that we need to increase for the future.”

Arteta had previously described Pochettino as a “father figure” dating back to their time together as players at Paris Saint-Germain and he said: “[I have] all the sympathy in the world, with everything that he’s been through and everything that he’s been doing. He knows that.

“I’ve been on the other side as well. He’s doing a great job, I think when you look at this team and analyse every second of them, they deserve to win many matches, they deserve to win against big teams.

“He’s doing a really good job so hopefully things will turn around and be as he deserves.”

Chelsea are away to Aston Villa on Saturday, while Arsenal play north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

“We have to do our job. Now we have to wait and see [for Liverpool and Manchester City’s results),” Arteta said. “We have a lot of games coming up. Let’s enjoy tonight and let’s go back to work.”

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