When Mauricio Pochettino signed a two-year deal with the Blues in July, it looked like Chelsea's woes were finally going to end. The Stamford Bridge side had come off the back of a 12th place finish in 2023, and had three managers during the season.

The disappointment of sacked managers, Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter, as well as the torrid interim spell under Frank Lampard left new owner Todd Boehly wanting a world class manager at the helm, to help bed in their new signings, as well as re-establish Chelsea to Champions League football, a competition they had won just three years ago.

However, it has not been the reign Pochettino had hoped. Despite booking a place in this years Carabao Cup final, the Argentine has not been able to get Chelsea out of mid-table, despite significant investment and a star-studded squad, raising questions about his job and making any sacking possible.

Let's take a look at Chelsea's season so far, and whether their performance this season has been deserved, or whether Pochettino's men deserve more credit.

  • How have Chelsea been fairing this season?

Pochettino had an extremely poor start, as in his first seven games, his Chelsea team only picked up two victories, against Luton and close rivals Fulham. Despite an encouraging first fixture after a 1-1 draw with Liverpool, where debutant Axel Disasi scored, losses to West Ham United, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa left Chelsea in 11th.

Since these opening seven games, the Blues have struggled to find any form of consistency, picking up more than one win in a row on two different occasions. Defeats to Brentford (2-0), Everton (2-0) and Wolves, home and away, occasions have left Chelsea missing out on vital points to push for Europe, which fans would have said was a requirement for a new manager at the start of the season.

Pochettino's results at top clubs haven't been anything to shout about. 4-1 defeats at Liverpool and Newcastle displayed just how weak in comparison to these clubs Chelsea have been. An extremely entertaining tie against Manchester City saw Cole Palmer score last minute to draw 4-4 with his former side, but the other half of Manchester fared much better, when United beat the Blues 2-1 at Old Trafford.

Even positive results against Arsenal and Tottenham were tainted. A late Trossard equaliser meant the Gunners pulled off a remakable comeback to frustrate Chelsea to a 2-2 draw. Additionally, a Nicolas Jackson hat-trick did award Chelsea a 4-1 win at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium, but it is worth noting that Tottenham only had nine men on the pitch.

Despite his evident footballing success, Pochettino has struggled to emulate his Tottenham team of the past. The tactical watermarks are there to see, with a focus on pressing and possession based football, using one-touch football and counter-pressing measures, as well as triangles of play which allow players to switch positions easily. This means Chelsea rank highest amongst defensive and passing stats, including the top five for average possession, progressive passes and carries.

However, it doesn't seem to be clicking so far for Pochettino and his Chelsea side. What factors may be influencing this, and how can Chelsea improve?

  • Record-breaking transfers made, but will these signings make the required impact?

Chelsea have been no stranger to making waves in the transfer market, as even though they splashed out to get their manager, they still topped the transfer expenditure charts by the end of the summer season to help build the squad that Pochettino desired.

Their most expensive acquisition was the $124m signing of Moises Caicedo from Brighton, with the defensive midfielder being in high demand. The player has been key for Pochettino's style of play, completing 90% of his attempted passes and ranking in the top 20% for tackles and blocks, compared to other midfielders in the top 5 leagues.

Centre-back Axel Disasi (Monaco) and striker Nicolas Jackson (Villareal) were surprise purchases, for $88m combined, but have featured heavily for the Argentine manager. Jackson has managed seven goals this season, but his xG of 10.9 promises much more, and Disasi ranks extremely high for his passing roles, acting much more as a ball playing defender.

Signings Robert Sanchez (Brighton) and Djorde Petrovic (New England Revolution) overhauled the goalkeeper department for a combined fee of $45m, and both players have made a significant contribution. Sanchez has continued his impressive Premier League form, and whilst Petrovic hasn't been too impressive saving wise, his playstyle and passes are key, with the Serbian 'keeper ranking in the top 10% for defensive actions outside the penalty box. 

Perhaps the most impressive signing has been 21-year old Cole Palmer. After signing for $50m from Manchester City, the winger has notched up ten goals and six assists in 21 games, proving the pricetag paid for him and impressing many with his display of attacking performances. Alongside youngsters Lesley Ugochukwu, Deivid Washington and Angelo, the youth identity is clear to see amongst the large amount of spending.

However, nothing seems to be clicking. Even the January signings of Mykhaylo Mudryk and Noni Madueke have struggled to hold down onto their starting spots on the wings, and their lack of impact has affected Chelsea's league position. However, a clear identity is trying to be formed by Pochettino and his signings. 

The individual impact and the profile of each player has been carefully scouted, and whilst the long-term contracts may be laughable, it suggests that Chelsea are trying to craft an extremely long-term strategy by hiring younger, more hungry players to stay at the club for a long period of time, even if the transfer fees are extremely sizeable.

Additionally, Chelsea are recouping a large amount of the fees they are spending. Over the past two seasons, their sales have seen a recoup of $355m, making their signings financially possible as the club isn't losing a large amount of money, securing the long term future and security of Chelsea alongside their signings.

Therefore, with an identity and a plan for their signings, the recruitment and transfer strategy may not be to blame for their lack of results, as their individual profiles and security suggests that there may be a strong plan behind the signings. So is the struggle just a case of luck? Or a team struggling to gel?

Despite the negativity surrounding Pochettino and his Chelsea side at this time, the 1-1 draw against Manchester City yesterday has offered the Blues encouragement. Pochettino has now avoided defeat in both matches against man City this season, drawing 4-4 with the Sky Blues in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge.

On this occasion, former City man Raheem Sterling expertly finished past Ederson to put the Blues in a shock lead, and after withstanding 31 opposing shots, it took a deflected shot from Rodri to breach the Chelsea defence, after a display of brave defending from the Blues.

Pochettino's stamp of one-touch passing and counter pressing saw an addition of counter attack football, with Chelsea arguably having two more clear cut chances, including a missed one-on-one from Jackson in the first half. However, it could be argued that City should've had three more themselves, with Erling Haaland uncharacteristically missing three huge chances.

In an era of negativity for Chelsea, this performance offered a ray of light for those singing the Blues. The team showed their resilicence when being under pressure, as well as their ability to take their opportunities and counter attack extremely effectively. On another day, Chelsea may have been taking three points home from the Etihad, which is a notoriously hard thing to do.

Whilst more consistency and clinicality has to be shown when facing lesser quality sides, Chelsea displayed the team they could be under Pochettino, suggesting that the club may be in a transition phase rather than a crisis. Whilst large expenditures is being spent on transfers, it is clear to see an identity and plan, centred around youth and players needing to develop, resulting in the inconsistency seen so far this season.

However, if Pochettino is to keep his job, and propel this Chelsea sise up the table, more results like this will be needed in their quest to move away from mid-table mediocrity, and back towards the European places the new owners, and spectators alike, desire.

  • When can Chelsea next impress fans again?

The next Premier League game for Chelsea is in the heart of London, at the GTech Community Stadium. Brentford will host the Blues in a 3pm GMT kickoff, on Saturday 2nd March.

However, on the 25th February, Chelsea face Liverpool at Wembley Stadium, to see who will take home the Carabao Cup trophy. This will be Pochettino's first shot at silverware at Stamford Bridge, and the game can be caught on Sky Sports Main Event channels.