‘A game we needed to win’ – Pochettino hails ‘work ethic’ after dogged Chelsea win

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It looked like the Blues were cruising to a second successive Premier League victory after two goals from Cole Palmer flanked Noni Madueke’s strike to put the visitors 3-0 up with less than a quarter of the game remaining.

But former Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley pulled one back for the Hatters before Elijah Adebayo set up a tense finale when he nudged home from close range in the 87th minute.

Luton continued to push forward in search of an equaliser that would have moved them level on points with Everton in 17th, but Chelsea hung on to end a tumultuous 2023 in style.

“I am so happy,” Pochettino told TNT Sports. “We need to give credit to Luton because if you see the previous games against Arsenal, Liverpool and many teams, they are so difficult to break down and they always come back to the game, they never give up. They deserve big credit.

“I think it’s a good example with little things to maximise the elements. I want to congratulate Luton and Rob [Edwards] because they are doing a fantastic job and you can appreciate today how difficult it is to play here.

“Even if it looks like you control the game, 3-0 for us, and then it’s 3-2. Some credit to our players also because I think to manage this situation is never easy and then for our situation it was a game we needed to win.”

The win was Chelsea’s third in four league matches and it saw them move back into the top half of the table.

That is the best run the club have been on since Pochettino arrived at Stamford Bridge in the summer and the Argentinian called on his players to show the same level of fight for the remainder of the season in order to become a more consistent outfit.

“Now is a moment to keep. Today is many positive things we need to translate to be consistent,” Pochettino added.

“The work ethic, the 11 players that were on the pitch today were all working together. I see many aspects that we have been improving in the last few games but it’s a young team.

“That doesn’t mean that it’s young players but it’s about knowing each other to create this trust and confidence and I think this type of result when you need your team-mates to fight with you is going to create a good thing.

“We need to be clever now to push and to have the same attitude, because the quality will arrive. We have plenty of talent but in the Premier League you need to match the desire of Luton and then of course the quality will be.

“But if you do not match that first for sure you are struggling.”

Pochettino ‘not thinking of going into January market’

One of the areas which has hindered Chelsea in the first half of the season has been their ability to convert chances.

Out of the teams in the top half of the Premier League, only Manchester United and West Ham have scored less.

After losing 2-0 to Everton, Pochettino appeared adamant that he would be dipping into the January transfer market in a bid to boost his attacking options but struck a different note after seeing Palmer and Madueke find the target against Luton.

“We are going to discuss with the owner and the sporting director but it is going to be a decision from everyone,” Pochettino said.

“At the moment, the most important thing is to work with our squad. There’s too many players who still need to step up and be part of the team and be available.

“It is so unbelievable from the start of the season we suffer so many injuries.

“To be honest I am not thinking of going into the market personally. But we have to discuss with the owners and the sporting director all together to make the best decision for the team.”

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