Sterling inspires Chelsea to first win under Pochettino

Raheem Sterling ignited Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea reign as Luton Town were beaten 3-0 at Stamford Bridge on Friday Night Football.

After failing to win his opening two Premier League games as Blues head coach, Pochettino secured his first competitive victory since his summer appointment as Sterling sparkled to continue his fine form at the start of the new season.

Chelsea opened the scoring in the 17th minute through Sterling as the winger picked up the ball from the right-hand side before driving at the Luton defence and finishing superbly.

The hosts extended their lead through Sterling in the 68th minute as he got on the end of an inch-perfect cross from Malo Gusto before stroking his effort home.

There was further misery for Luton in the 75th minute through Nicolas Jackson as the Senegal striker lurked at the back post and got on the end of Sterling’s driven cross to tap in his first goal for the club.

Raheem Sterling shone for Chelsea against Luton
Image: Raheem Sterling shone for Chelsea against Luton

Pochettino said: “I’m really pleased. It was a solid performance. I am happy because the first victory is always very important, to provide the team with the confidence and trust in the way we are doing things.”

On Sterling’s performance, he added: “He played with freedom on the pitch, we know what he is capable of. On the wing, inside, between the lines, in the pocket, he has the quality to play many places and the he had quality to run and finish.

“We are pleased for him, he needs to keep going and contribute more goals and assists to help the team to win.”

Player ratings

Chelsea: Sanchez (6), Disasi (7), Thiago Silva (7), Colwill (8), Gusto (8), Caicedo (7), Fernandez (8), Chilwell (7), Sterling (9), Gallagher (7), Jackson (7).

Subs: Ugochukwu (n/a), Maatsen (n/a), Burstow (n/a).

Luton: Kaminski (7), Burke (6), Lockyer (6), Bell (6), Kabore (7), Barkley (5), Nakamba (5), Chong (6), Giles (6), Morris (6), Adebayo (6).

Subs: Andersen (n/a), Ogbene (n/a), Brown (n/a), Doughty (n/a), Mpanzu, (n/a).

Player of the match: Raheem Sterling.

Chelsea entertaining again under Pochettino

Sterling needs to re-establish himself as a leading figure for club and country
Image: Sterling needs to re-establish himself as a leading figure for club and country

Pochettino had warned his Chelsea players that Luton would get the better of them if they failed to match the desire to win of Rob Edwards’ newly promoted side.

Chelsea were seeking a first win under his tenure following a draw and a defeat in his first two games in charge and grappling with the problem of integrating a flux of summer recruits.

Team news

Moises Caicedo was handed his first Chelsea start for the Premier League visit of Luton to Stamford Bridge. The British-record buy came in for Carney Chukwuemeka who is out for six weeks with a knee injury.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side were otherwise unchanged from the line-up that lost to West Ham. For Luton, Ross Barkley came in for his first appearance for the team against the club where he spent five seasons.

Defeat to the Hatters, who last won in the league at Stamford Bridge in 1986 and are yet to pick up a point in their debut Premier League season, would have added to the noise surrounding Pochettino’s Chelsea rebuild, with the club having spent more than £350m on nine new signings so far this summer.

It was near the end of the transfer window last season that former manager Thomas Tuchel talked of there being “a curse” on Chelsea’s number nine shirt, such has been the club’s lack of success with strikers in recent seasons – but Sterling looks in the mood to take on the responsibility.

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Raheem Sterling weaves through the Luton defence for an incredible opening opening goal

His goal was his third attempt of a vibrant opening 17 minutes, first denied by a Tom Lockyer block having chopped inside two Luton defenders before firing sweetly on the volley straight at Thomas Kaminski.

Luton’s Tahith Chong sliced well wide but Chelsea looked comfortable. Enzo Fernandez shaved the crossbar after being set up by Ben Chilwell, and two minutes later, Sterling broke the deadlock.

Pochettino purred with satisfaction as it was a goal straight out of Cobham, worked through the thirds as Moises Caicedo, Conor Gallagher and Fernandez all combined before Gusto found Sterling who isolated Ryan Giles, weaved inside and found the bottom corner.

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Ben Chilwell gets through on goal but decides to pass!

Chelsea were content to take their slender lead to half-time, but the hosts ought to have doubled their advantage early in the second as after Chilwell was found through a gaping hole in Luton’s defence, the full-back inexplicably tried to pass to Sterling when it was easier to score.

Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher said: “I can’t believe what I’ve seen from Chilwell. It’s awful. It really is. Such poor decision making.”

Jackson swiftly drew a smart block from Kaminski, who was again in the right place to deny Fernandez at the far post after being picked out by Sterling.

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Raheem Sterling smoothly slides in a second for Chelsea against Luton

The door was still left ajar for Luton, who threatened when Giles was found in space on the left but his shot lost its venom as it deflected off Gusto and was parried away by Robert Sanchez.

It proved a turning point, as Chelsea gleefully stretched their lead when Sterling was again found by Gusto for a swept finish beyond Kaminski.

Smiles were back on faces and Fernandez was joyfully juggling with the ball to send Sterling scuttling into space to drill across for Jackson to put the icing on the cake.

Pochettino added: “It is really important for him [to get off the mark] because he is a young player, coming in from a different league – the Premier League is always difficult.

“We asked him to run, to press in the phase when we don’t have the ball. Then the quality with his feet, to run with the ball and to link with his team mates. He can become one of the greatest strikers in the Premier League with time.”

Chelsea are up and running and entertaining again under Pochettino.

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Nicolas Jackson opens his Premier League goalscoring account to make it 3-0 to Chelsea

Analysis: Pochettino liberating Chelsea

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Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino was pleased with his side’s 3-0 win over Luton and heaped praise on Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Jackson.

Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds at Stamford Bridge:

“Pochettino recalled this week one of his early games in charge of Espanyol when he took his team to the Nou Camp and staged a famous victory against Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona en route to masterminding the team’s LaLiga survival.

“That 2-1 win in February 2009, earned thanks to two goals from midfielder Ivan de la Pena as Espanyol ended a 27-year wait for a victory at the home of their city rivals, announced Pochettino’s arrival as a coach and was a springboard for dragging his new team out of the relegation zone to safety.

“It went down as one of the shocks of the LaLiga season in Spain, particularly as Barcelona were en route to winning a domestic and European treble in what was Guardiola’s first season in charge.

Nicolas Jackson in action for Chelsea vs Luton
Image: Nicolas Jackson in action for Chelsea vs Luton

“There was no complacency from Chelsea on Friday, however, as Pochettino’s side were polished in overcoming less-heralded opposition.

“Luton have paid out around £20m on transfers during the last 18 months. Despite football’s unique propensity for springing upsets, there was a notable gulf in class.

“Pochettino acknowledged that the door may not be fully closed on Romelu Lukaku’s future at Stamford Bridge if a deal cannot be reached to sell him before the end of the window, although the player is eager to leave and unlikely to prove the answer to the team’s goalscoring woes unless his relationship with the club improves.

“The head coach said the club remain in the market for another attacking option but only if a player of the his profile becomes available.

“Summer signing Christopher Nkunku is out until December and the No 9 shirt is currently not assigned. This is certainly a work in progress, but even with the current spate of absentees, there is enough to suggest the only way is up under Pochettino.”

Edwards: We were really brave

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Luton manager Rob Edwards felt his side weren’t as ruthless as Chelsea in their 3-0 loss at Stamford Bridge.

Luton boss Rob Edwards:

“I don’t like losing, none of us do. But there are ways to lose. When our fans reacted like that, applauding us off, we know we’ve done something right.

“We were up against it, against a really good team today. I thought we were really brave, I am proud of the players.

“I’ve seen improvement from the game against Brighton. We were aggressive when we could be and tried to go for them. In the end both ends of the pitch let us down slightly. They were ruthless in the key moments and we weren’t. There are areas to work on.

“Second half I thought we started as the better team. We had to make something happen but we weren’t able to. It was going to go one way or another, we needed to score but they did.

“The players have worked so hard, I’m not going to blame anyone. We have to make sure we can do the basics for 100 minutes. Football is difficult, especially at this level.”

FPL Stats: Chelsea 3-0 Luton

Goals Sterling (2), N. Jackson
Assists Gusto (2), Sterling
Bonus points Sterling (3), Gusto (2), N. Jackson (1)

Neville: Sterling remains a force

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The Friday Night Panel discuss the reasons behind Raheem Sterling’s improvement in form for Chelsea this season.

Sky Sports Gary Neville:

“Raheem Sterling is at his best when driving at defenders one-on-one or arriving in the box and getting in where it hurts – that’s where Pep Guardiola changed his game.

“Tonight, he got into positions to win a game for his team and that’s the difference. I never thought he was at his best in the pockets or with his back to goal – he’s not Phil Foden. He’s a player who plays on the last line.

Raheem Sterling's heatmap against Luton

“It sounds like he’s had that moment in the last 12 months where after playing at the very top for a long time he’s had a little dip and thinking whether he’s reached his peak. Playing under Pep Guardiola’s demands every single day to playing in a team that threw the towel in, he probably was thinking ‘is this what I want?’ He had to look in the mirror.

“He has to show his team-mates now that he’s the player that has won all the titles, played at major tournaments. It sounds like he had a moment where he had to become a force in that dressing room as he’s come back a different player.”

Player of the match – Raheem Sterling

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Raheem Sterling tells the FNF team about last season’s frustrations and goes through his goals against Luton.

Raheem Sterling speaking to Sky Sports:

“I had a bit of frustration last season I was always coming with my back to goal, a bit deep, and wasn’t given a chance to get towards the box. I had a conversation with the manager last week and we’ve gone through the role – and I know what he wants from me, getting in on the back post, driving at players – that’s when I’m most effective.

“I came here in a difficult period, excuses, that’s all in the past. I’ve taken a look at myself and I’m a person that analyses, what went wrong, what I can change. I want to get back being obsessed with football – simple as that. Football 24/7, scoring and assisting goals.

“In the first game against Liverpool, I was inside the pocket a bit too much and that was my feeling last season when I was too deep playing balls with the full backs. We had a simple conservation and he said ‘Raheem it doesn’t matter where you play – as long as you apply it, are dynamic, then no one can stop you, just be aggressive with the ball’. I’ve got the desire and hunger to do that.

“A lot has happened in my career. I came into a new challenge and it was difficult. My head could be a bit blurry – sometimes you need to have a clear vision to see what you want. My love for football is too strong for it to fizzle out and I want to make sure I’m maintaining those standards.”

Chelsea end winless home run – Opta stats

Raheem Sterling is congratulated by Mauricio Pochettino
Image: Sterling is congratulated by Mauricio Pochettino
  • Chelsea registered their first Premier League win at Stamford Bridge since March (1-0 v Leeds), ending a run of eight home league games without one (D5 L3). Indeed, tonight’s result already equals their biggest margin of victory at Stamford Bridge in the competition from last term (3-0 v Wolves in October 2022).
  • Chelsea are now unbeaten in the last 100 Premier League games at Stamford Bridge when they’ve been leading at half time (W81 D19), with Arsenal in October 2011 the last team to come from behind there after trailing at the break (5-3).
  • Luton have faced 20 shots on target from their opposition in the Premier League so far – since 2003-04 (when data is available), only Spurs in 2011-12 (23) and Fulham in 2018-19 (21) have faced more shots on target in their opening two games of a top-flight campaign.
  • Malo Gusto assisted both of Raheem Sterling’s goals in this game, becoming just the fourth player to register 2+ assists on his first Premier League home start for Chelsea (after Dan Petrescu in 1995, Eden Hazard in 2012 and Hakim Ziyech in 2020).

What’s next?

Friday 1st September 7:00pm Kick off 8:00pm

Sky Sports Premier League HD Sky Sports Premier League HD

Chelsea have two home games next week, hosting League Two side AFC Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup second round on Wednesday night before welcoming Nottingham Forest to Stamford Bridge for their next Premier League game on September 2, kick-off 3pm.

Luton are also involved in Carabao Cup action in midweek, hosting Gillingham on Tuesday night. Attention will then turn to their first Premier League game at Kenilworth Road when the Hatters welcome West Ham on Friday Night Football on September 1, kick-off 8pm.

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