Chelsea vs Leicester: FA Cup gives Mauricio Pochettino another chance to win over unhappy fans

Chelsea vs Leicester: FA Cup gives Mauricio Pochettino another chance to win over unhappy fans

Another weekend, another important test of Mauricio Pochettino’s staying power.

The Chelsea head coach is clear he will not give up trying to change the minds of frustrated fans, and Sunday’s home FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester is a big opportunity to see the pendulum swing back in his favour.

There are signs that certain players are ready to come good after a 3-2 win at home to Newcastle on Monday.

Mykhailo Mudryk netted a wonderful late goal and Cole Palmer again starred with a goal and an assist, Nicolas Jackson deftly flicking his long-range shot into the net.

Right-back Malo Gusto would be a worthy runner-up to Palmer in the race for Chelsea’s player of the season award, while Axel Disasi remains ever-present as he now partners Trevoh Chalobah.

Partnerships are being built in midfield between a consistent trio of Enzo Fernandez, Conor Gallagher and Moises Caicedo, while goals are also flowing in attack.

Eight key players remain out injured, though, including Christopher Nkunku, Reece James and Ben Chilwell, but the latter could return from a knee injury after being included in England’s squad yesterday.

There have also been a series of morale-boosting hires behind the scenes. Brentford coach Bernardo Cueva has agreed to join and start a new set-piece department.

He joins big-name appointments from February, including Brighton’s head of recruitment Sam Jewell, Swansea’s head of football operations Josh Marsh and former FA culture consultant Owen Eastwood, among others.

Yet, personnel change, injury problems and the youthful naivety of players also explain inconsistent league form. Chelsea still looked fragile against Newcastle, as they did away at Brentford, and remain 11th in the table.

Pressure remains on Pochettino, but most of the squad remain behind him and working on making things click.

Pochettino has smartly taken the domestic cup competitions seriously. By picking his best team each time, he has given Chelsea another chance to win a trophy out of chaos.

Leicester, however, will have seen that Gallagher’s winner against Leeds in the last round came against the run of play.

In knockout competition, Chelsea can ill-afford a slip-up, with their season on a knife-edge.