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Football London
Football London
Bobby Vincent

Mauricio Pochettino has Chelsea 'killer' as former Tottenham boss agrees new manager contract

That was trademark Raheem Sterling – and it's not often we've been able to say that.

There was a lot of excitement and expectation when Chelsea signed the 28-year-old in July of last year from Manchester City. After a seven-year spell at the Citizens that ended with 10 major honours and 131 goals, a move back to London, a place Sterling considers home, saw him end up at Stamford Bridge.

Sterling was Thomas Tuchel's 'marquee' attacking signing in what turned out to be a very busy first transfer window for Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital at Chelsea. Three goals in his opening five games for the Blues saw the England international make a fast start to life in west London but things became increasingly difficult for the winger after that.

READ MORE: Chelsea make major Mauricio Pochettino breakthrough as deal agreed for new manager

Just two goals prior to the World Cup campaign that got underway in November, albeit in an underperforming Chelsea team, saw Sterling come in for some criticism. His house was then burgled while he was in Qatar on England duty for the World Cup, something that could undoubtedly – and very understandably – have rocked him mentally.

The second half of the season has seen Sterling produce some really poor form, with supporters becoming increasingly frustrated with his performances. When he was brought on at Bournemouth last weekend, there were some boos, seemingly in Sterling's direction, coming from the travelling supporters. He quickly silenced them with a fantastic solo run to set Joao Felix up for the fourth and final goal of the game.

That assist alone may have been what persuaded Frank Lampard to start the winger instead of Mykhailo Mudryk against Nottingham Forest in the 2-2 draw on Saturday afternoon. Mudryk had started against Bournemouth seven days before but Sterling was given the nod for the visit of Forest.

A frustrating first-half was encapsulated by Sterling taking too long to get a shot off when in a one-on-one situation after being played through by Enzo Fernandez. The hesitation from the England international allowed Felipe to get back into position and block what looked a tame effort on his left foot.

However, Lampard must've said something at half-time to his team. They looked a different side. And to Sterling, who looked a different animal.

A low cross from Trevoh Chalobah on the right-hand side, albeit via a couple of deflections, found Sterling who beat Keylor Navas in the Forest goal. Moments later, it was 2-1 to Chelsea – this time, Sterling sat down Felipe, cut the ball onto his favoured right foot and found the far corner with an unstoppable effort. It was what we've come to expect from Sterling over the years. It was the Manchester City version of Sterling.

"Raheem is a player that has the credit in the bank, as such, that he's been a regular goal scorer in the Premier League and for his country," Lampard told reporters after the game. "To see him score there, that's Raheem, arriving for a cross and then individual brilliance. I'm very happy for him.

"It's what we need at the top end of the pitch. Raheem has done it and he's done it again. You need to win games when you have 76 per cent possession and you need killers at the top end of the pitch and Raheem has proven to be that. At the moment, we do not have enough of that."

It's a great point made by Lampard. Chelsea do not have enough of that at the moment. Sterling hasn't been a said 'killer' all season-long, unfortunately, but when he's in that sort of mood, we remember what kind of player he really is.

Mauricio Pochettino has agreed a deal to become the new Chelsea head coach, as reported on Saturday evening. The Argentine is yet to sign the contract at Stamford Bridge but it's understood an agreement is in place for him to take charge of the team in the summer.

Pochettino will have loads of work to do over the summer and at the start of next season in order to try and transform this Chelsea squad into winners again. One thing he is going to need to do is turn these attacking players into the 'killers' Lampard referred to, but he already has one in Sterling who has proven it over the years.

The likes of Noni Madueke, who clearly has an abundance of talent, needs that killer instinct. Madueke wasn't so sharp against Nottingham Forest on Saturday but in the previous two outings at Arsenal and Bournemouth he was one of the strongest attacking players. At Bournemouth, it was clear to see that end product was missing from his game, otherwise he would be a genuine world-class talent.

It's the same with Mudryk, Kai Havertz, Joao Felix – the list goes on. It's been the same with Sterling for the majority of the season but on Saturday, the winger showed his nasty side, his killer side. He sent a message against Forest. He's not done.

Pochettino needs killers. Chelsea need killers – albeit not in the literal sense, of course – to get back to where they should be.


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