Chelsea fans are happy with Mauricio Pochettino’s decision to drop Conor Gallagher to the bench for their Carabao Cup semifinal second-leg clash against Middlesbrough tonight (January 23).
The Blues head into tonight’s encounter with the EFL Championship outfit 1-0 down on aggregate. English midfielder Hayden Hackney scored a memorable winner at the Riverside in the first leg.
Gallagher captained Chelsea in that defeat and has worn the captain’s armband during Reece James and Ben Chilwell’s absences. He’s impressed with his workhorse playing style, providing four assists in 26 games across competitions.
However, speculation continues to grow over the England international’s future at Stamford Bridge. He has a year left on his contract but the west Londoners are reportedly open to selling if an offer of around £50 million offer arrives.
Tonight will give Pochettino the opportunity to see how Chelsea fare without the English midfielder. He’s dropped to the bench with the Argentine coach naming a strong attacking lineup to face Michael Carrick’s Boro.
Djordje Petrovic continues in goal in the absence of Robert Sanchez, with Axel Disasi moving to right-back due to Malo Gusto’s injury. The Frenchman is joined in a back four alongside Thiago Silva, Levi Colwill, and Chilwell.
Meanwhile, Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez start in midfield, with the in-form Cole Palmer perhaps in an attacking midfield role. Mykhailo Mudryk and Raheem Sterling join Armando Broja in attack.
One fan thinks Pochettino has made the call to drop Gallagher as he wants to win:
“Wow Poch actually wants to win for once.”
Another fan echoed those sentiments:
“This has made my day.”
Here’s how fans on X (formerly Twitter) reacted to Pochettino’s decision to name Gallagher on the bench:
Mauricio Pochettino raised the stakes ahead of Chelsea’s clash against Middlesbrough
Chelsea have endured a difficult season thus far, languishing down in ninth place in the Premier League. Their Carabao Cup journey has been positive in a disappointing period.
Pochettino is well aware of the significance of tonight’s game. The Blues boss knows that his side need to turn things around to book their place in the final at Wembley on February 25 (via football.london):
“It’s a passport to go to the final, to visit Wembley. It’s an important game for us. We want to be in the final but first of all we need to beat a very good team. In the first-leg, we could not beat them. We are confident we can have a very good game in front of our fans at Stamford Bridge. We need to take advantage of playing at Stamford Bridge.”
Chelsea face a Boro side that have impressed since Carrick took over in October 2022. His side sit 11th in the Championship at present but have conjured up a fairytale story in the Carabao Cup.