Mauricio Pochettino refused to accept a lack of discipline is responsible for Chelsea’s unwelcome position as the Premier League team with the most yellow cards this season.
The team collected five bookings during the 2-1 defeat to Wolves at Molineux on Christmas Eve, amongst them Cole Palmer who will now miss Wednesday’s game against Crystal Palace after accruing five for the campaign.
Raheem Sterling also saw yellow for simulation when he sought a penalty in stoppage time, as Chelsea chased what would have been an undeserved equaliser against Gary O’Neil’s side.
The team has already seen suspensions for Reece James, Malo Gusto and Conor Gallagher after being sent off earlier in the season, whilst summer signing Nicolas Jackson is only two bookings short of 10 for the campaign and a further two-match ban, having also been suspended in September.
Yet Pochettino insisted that a will to improve the team’s spluttering league form is what is causing his players to act rashly.
“No, it’s representative that we play for Chelsea, we are in a big club, you feel the pressure,” he said. “When you are frustrated, and you don’t have maybe the experience of other teams, you make a mistake.
“Palmer is playing for us his first season as a regular. It’s normal. The players care, they want to win, they are frustrated.
“It’s not discipline. We need to have more the capacity to read the situation of the game.”
Pochettino also pointed towards injuries as a contributing factor in his team’s struggles, with at least eight players unfit for the meeting with Palace at Stamford Bridge.
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Enzo Fernandez is set to be missing for the second straight game, whilst the manager has hinted he does not yet believe Christopher Nkunku and Romeo Lavia are fit to start after long spells out.
“My focus now is to recover players and to fix the many, many things that are going on from the beginning of the season,” he said.
“If you’re going to see the squad for the next game, you’re going to see more than eight first-team players (missing).
“I’m frustrated and disappointed not to be able to use all the players at the same time. That is why sometimes we’ve been up and down in our results.”