5 things Chelsea need to fix after Carabao Cup final humiliation

  • Chelsea fell to an inexperienced Liverpool side 1-0 in the Carabao Cup final
  • Blues became first team to lose six consecutive domestic finals
  • Mauricio Pochettino once again finds himself under immense pressure

Chelsea fell in the Carabao Cup final
Chelsea fell in the Carabao Cup final / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

For the sixth domestic final in a row, Chelsea were left tasting defeat at Wembley on Sunday, but this one felt more painful than the others.

The Blues had actually built some momentum heading into the game, whereas Liverpool were without some of their biggest players and ended up having to rely on inexperienced academy kids. It really felt like this one could end the streak.

After Virgil van Dijk's extra-time header injected an unwelcome dose of reality, here's what Chelsea need to fix.

Lack of quality out wide

Raheem Sterling, Conor Bradley
Sterling was one of many players who failed to make an impact / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Raheem Sterling started the game on the left wing. He managed 67 minutes, in which he failed to take a shot (his offside goal does not count), create a chance or complete a single dribble.

Off the bench came the ineffective Mykhailo Mudryk, who did create a small sight of goal but also gave Virgil van Dijk the easiest header of his career at the other end. Noni Madueke managed 23 minutes in extra time without creating a chance either.

Cole Palmer started the game on the right wing but doesn't exactly play like a winger, meaning Chelsea had exactly zero threat out wide from the first minute until the last. How can that be allowed from £200m of talent?

No goals from anywhere in the squad

Caoimhin Kelleher, Conor Gallagher
Gallagher missed an excellent chance / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

When Chelsea splashed out close to £300m on Enzo Fernandez, Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia (the latter of whom has hardly played due to injury), it was highlighted that the Blues had spent such a huge fee on three players who have no idea how to score goals.

As it turns out, that isn't just a problem for Fernandez and Caicedo, but a wider sickness that plagues the entirety of the Chelsea squad.

Conor Gallagher was guilty of missing some big chances here, while the usually reliable Cole Palmer missed perhaps the biggest opportunity of them all which, when added to the aforementioned flaws from the wingers, meant Chelsea had nobody who ever felt likely to score.

Adding a prolific striker like Victor Osimhen is crucial, but it almost feels as though that won't be enough to give this team sufficient threat.

Petrovic's play out from the back

Djordje Petrovic
Even Petrovic has his flaws / GLYN KIRK/GettyImages

Look, Djordje Petrovic has been outstanding since coming into the Chelsea team, and he put on another impressive showing at Wembley. With his hands, he is very good.

With his feet, however, Petrovic has a few issues which need addressing.

The 24-year-old rarely looked comfortable with the ball at his feet and even drew visible frustration from Enzo Fernandez as a long pass went aimlessly awry. Modern goalkeepers need to offer more in possession.

Ugly midfield balance

Enzo Fernandez
Fernandez's fit in this team still feels off / Robin Jones/GettyImages

It's hard to figure out what Pochettino wants from his midfield. Caicedo drops into defence despite also being box-to-box, while Fernandez is tasked with bringing the ball out from the back and delivering that final killer ball in attack. It's not working.

Gallagher is given the responsibility in the advanced role because of his excellent pressing, but perhaps that attribute is needed deeper in midfield in games where Chelsea are struggling to get control.

This might be something that sorts itself out naturally when the likes of Lavia, Christopher Nkunku and Carney Chukwuemeka are fully fit again, but if this is Pochettino's stop-gap solution, it needs improving immediately.

Is Pochettino the man for the job?

Mauricio Pochettino
Pochettino could have ended his silverware drought / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

Pochettino probably won't get an easier final in his entire career, taking on a Liverpool side without so many key players and full of academy talents. It seemed harder to lose this than win it, and yet Chelsea still did.

Sure, he can't exactly be held accountable for Chelsea's five missed big chances during the game, or the legs that began failing after 100 minutes of intense action, but that's irrelevant. It's a manager's job to patch the holes in their squad - Jurgen Klopp had a teenage defender cosplaying as Mohamed Salah for most of the game - and Pochettino simply isn't doing that.

His claim that the Chelsea squad wanted to play for penalties seems hard to believe considering the Blues had about five separate chances to win the game towards the end of regular time. They looked fitter, more confident and simply better than Liverpool at that point, only to throw that all away in extra time.

It's easy to call Pochettino 'Spursy' or pull out the offensively bad impression of Giorgio Chiellini's 'history of Tottenham' comments, but the boss has to do something to change the perception of him quickly. This was perhaps the easiest free win he could have dreamed of and Pochettino still didn't get his hands on the trophy. At some point, that can no longer be ignored.