Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino has insisted he was left with no choice but to start Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo in Saturday’s London derby with Arsenal, joking that the club’s owners would kill him if he rested them.
Fernandez and Caicedo, who cost the Blues well in excess of £100m each, both played the full 90 minutes of their 2-2 draw against the Gunners at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
A Cole Palmer penalty and an over-hit cross from Mykhailo Mudryk saw Chelsea open up a two-goal lead and they seemed to be cruising to victory before Robert Sanchez gifted Declan Rice an open goal to close that gap late on.
Leandro Trossard came off the bench to convert a deep cross from Bukayo Saka in the final few minutes of the game and snatch a point for Arsenal.
Pochettino opted to deploy a starting pivot of Fernandez and Caicedo despite both returning late from international duty with Argentina and Ecuador respectively.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, Pochettino admitted that neither midfielder was in top condition, but they both simply had to play.
“Today, Caicedo and Enzo arrived after two games in [South] America and they were not fresh. But they are important players for us,” he said.
“So now we are going to have a week to work and for sure they are going to be better and improve.
“It’s crazy for players to come back from America on Wednesday and play on Saturday. But if I say ‘OK, I’m going to give them a rest’ you will kill me, for sure if they don’t play. And the owner also!
“It’s really tough to arrive like that. I hope now they can recover and train and in one week be at their best.”
Chelsea are next in action on Saturday lunchtime when they welcome west London neighbours Brentford to Stamford Bridge. The Blues have lost both home meetings with the Bees following their promotion to the Premier League, with Thomas Frank’s side prevailing 4-1 in April 2022 and 2-0 in April 2023.
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