Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino has insisted he has 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 over £100m each, both played the full 90 minutes of their 2-2 draw against the Gunners at Stamford Bridge at the weekend.
A Cole Palmer penalty and Mykhailo Mudryk overhead kick saw Chelsea open up a two-goal lead and they looked set for victory before Robert Sanchez gifted Declan Rice an open goal to reduce the deficit late on.
Leandro Trossard came off the bench to head home Bukayo Saka’s deep cross in the final minutes of the game to seal a point for Arsenal.
Pochettino opted to field Fernandez and Caicedo despite both returning late from international duty with Argentina and Ecuador respectively.
Fernandez and Caicedo recently returned to England / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages
Pochettino said in his post-match press conference that neither midfielder was at his best, but they simply both needed to play.
“Today Caicedo and Enzo came after two games [South] America and they were not fresh. But they are important players for us,” he said.
“So now we’re going to have a week to work and they’re definitely going to get 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 rest them’ you’ll kill me, definitely if they don’t play. And the owner too!
“It is very difficult to come like this. I hope that now they can recover and train and be at their best in one week.”
Chelsea are next in action on Saturday lunchtime when they host west London neighbors Brentford at Stamford Bridge. The Blues have lost both of their home games against the Bees since their promotion to the Premier League, with Thomas Frank’s side winning 4-1 in April 2022 and 2-0 in April 2023.
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