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Enzo Maresca knows top agenda on Chelsea to-do list amid Mauricio Pochettino nine-word admission

Enzo Maresca
-Credit: (Image: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA)


"When we have bad days, we are so bad," a savage, brutal, but frankly honest assessment from Mauricio Pochettino after he saw his Chelsea team battered 5-0 at Arsenal in April.

The truth hurt for Chelsea. In the same eight-day period the Blues beat Everton 6-0 and then got demolished 5-0 by the eventual runners-up in the Premier League.

In their final 22 matches of the season - in all competitions - Chelsea's defence was nowhere near good enough. In that time, the Blues conceded 37 goals, getting close to two per-game, while keeping just three clean sheets in the process.

Injuries did not help. Pochettino was forced to chop and change his back-line almost every game because of the crisis the squad were going through. But it was not all down to the defence.

The midfield in front of the back-four rarely protected their teammates as well as they could have done. Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo, for all of their individual talent, did not work well together as a pair. It was only in the games where Fernandez was missing towards the end of the campaign that we saw an impressive pairing in Caicedo and Conor Gallagher.

There were problems at right-back, too, for the majority of the second half of the season. Malo Gusto did such a stellar job in deputising for the injured Reece James throughout the season but the young Frenchman was essentially run into the ground by the end of the campaign.

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Marc Cucurella returned at left-back in March but before that, Pochettino was using a half-fit Ben Chilwell, who struggled to produce his best form whenever he was available during the 2023/24 term. There was also too much change in the centre-back pairing for a duo to really build chemistry together.

Too many individual mistakes, lapses of focus, poor positioning, and much more, led to an extremely disappointing season defensively. Chelsea conceded a record-breaking 63 goals throughout the Premier League campaign - eight more than their previous worst that came in 1994/95 and 1996/97.

To put it in some context, Nottingham Forest, who finished in 17th-place, only conceded four more goals than Chelsea. Brentford, who finished in 16th, conceded two more goals.

For Enzo Maresca, the soon-to-be Chelsea head coach, there is plenty to do when he officially starts his role at Stamford Bridge. Perhaps, though, none more than important than trying to sort out an extremely leaky defensive line.

The Italian, football.london understands, is expected to be confirmed as the Blues' new head coach on a five-year contract. Maresca is said to have been 'extremely impressive' in conversations with Behdad Eghbali, Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart.

Maresca has a big pre-season in front of him. Chelsea fly out to the United States this summer, where they will be playing matches in Santa Clara, Notre Dame, Atlanta, Columbus and Charlotte, and Maresca will have a very limited amount of time to discover who he trusts in the squad and those that can adapt quickest to his style of football.

There is plenty to do for the 44-year-old when he begins at Cobham. But as for any side wanting to compete towards the top end of the Premier League, sorting out the defence should be a priority.