Chelsea’s league-high 56 bookings not down to indiscipline, claims Pochettino | Chelsea

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Mauricio Pochettino has denied Chelsea have a discipline problem despite racking up the most yellow cards in the Premier League and having Raheem Sterling and Cole Palmer suspended for Wednesday’s match at home to Crystal Palace.

The pair were among five Chelsea players cautioned at Wolves on Christmas Eve as the team lost a fourth successive away game in the Premier League. Pochettino was also shown the yellow card as Chelsea were beaten for the 19th time in 2023, the most defeats in the English top flight.

Chelsea have had 56 yellow cards in the league this season, not including three to members of the coaching staff. At Wolves Sterling was cautioned for allegedly diving , and Palmer, Malo Gusto and Nicolas Jackson were booked for dissent in the space of six minutes shortly after Mario Lemina put them 1-0 down.

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Pochettino does not believe this is representative of a lack of discipline. “No – it’s representative of the fact that we play for Chelsea, we are a big club and you feel the pressure,” he said. “When you are frustrated and lack a bit of experience, it’s [something on] we can improve.

“It’s Palmer’s first season in the Premier League and it is normal. He is playing for Chelsea. Of course, it’s frustrating. But the players care, the players want to win. It’s not about a lack of discipline, it’s about having the ability to read the situation of the game.”

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Palmer was given his Premier League debut by Manchester City in August 2021 and made 19 appearances for them in the league, albeit only three from the start, before joining Chelsea. Pochettino has highlighted the youthfulness of his squad, on which more than £420m was spent last summer, and believes he will have the right blend of youth and experience once he is over an injury crisis that means Chelsea have had at least eight players missing for each match.

Pochettino hopes to have Moisés Caicedo back on Wednesday from the fever that ruled him out on Sunday but Enzo Fernández is still due to be missing with a hernia problem.

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“To have all of the players fit is the moment when we will find the right balance,” the manager said. “At the moment we are trying to compensate as we always have eight, 10, 12 players out, so we have to adapt to find the balance and find solutions.”

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