Pochettino: FA Cup key for Chelsea’s European entry

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Mauricio Pochettino has urged Chelsea, currently facing inconsistency in the Premier League, to view the FA Cup as a potential avenue to European competition. With an 11-point gap from the top five, qualifying for the Champions League or Europa League is proving challenging for Chelsea this season.

In light of their turbulent first half of the season, Pochettino sees the FA Cup as an opportunity for Chelsea to find solace. The Argentine manager recognizes that winning the FA Cup would secure them a spot in the Europa League, providing a significant boost.

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Additionally, Chelsea aims to secure a backup position in the Europa Conference League by winning the League Cup. Pochettino’s team is set to face Middlesbrough in the League Cup semi-final over two legs, commencing on Tuesday, with the second leg scheduled for January 23.

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Pochettino expressed confidence in Chelsea’s ability to win the FA Cup and emphasized the importance of progressing in both the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup. He acknowledged the significance of these competitions for a club currently not in European competitions through the Premier League.

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In anticipation of a lengthy FA Cup run, Pochettino revealed that there would not be wholesale changes to the Chelsea team that secured a 3-2 victory at Luton in their last Premier League match. While Christopher Nkunku is expected to start on the bench due to fitness concerns, Pochettino hinted at a potential starting role for striker Armando Broja. Additionally, Nicolas Jackson, who represents Senegal, has departed for the Africa Cup of Nations.

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Pochettino emphasized treating the FA Cup match against Championship side Preston with the same seriousness as a Premier League fixture, highlighting the importance of respecting their opponents. Despite facing a lower-tier team, Pochettino is determined to approach the FA Cup step by step to achieve success.

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