Here are the three top talking points from the weekend’s action...
Will Paul Pogba ever deliver on his price tag?
You might not have noticed but, at Wembley yesterday, the most expensive player in the history of football was in action. He had bleached blonde hair and he did not do much. After returning to Manchester United in the summer for the best part of €100m, playing beneath the pressure which comes with such a price tag was always going to be tough for Pogba, but United fans should rightly expect more.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic aside, United were not great anywhere on the pitch but a blockbuster signing like Pogba should be providing far more than he did on such a huge occasion. His time at Juventus was punctuated by man of the match performances and jaw-dropping goals, so why can’t he produce the goods back in Blighty?
He clearly has a superb relationship with Ibrahimovic, the pair laughing together on TV like football’s answer to Ant and Dec, but only one of those is currently performing to the required standards. Why is Pogba not hitting the heights expected of him? Or is he just not as good as we all thought?
Can Conte future-proof Blues for a glory era?
With Frank Lampard introduced to the crowd at half-time and Claude Makelele part of the Swansea backroom staff, there was a hint of nostalgia in the air at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
This time last year, that feeling would have been accompanied by a sense of longing for the teams of the club’s recent past, but this season Conte’s side are creating their own history.
A 12th consecutive home league win matched the club record for a season and the title looks assured with a league and FA Cup double a distinct possibility.
A bigger test will come next season when the club returns to the Champions League and the lack of depth in the current squad, particularly up front and in central defence, will be exposed if not addressed this summer. But as Paul Clement observed, this is a younger group than the one Carlo Ancelotti guided to the double and the signs are this is the start of a new era.
Must Pochettino deliver silverware this season?
Last Thursday’s Europa League defeat raised questions about the extent of Tottenham’s progress under Pochettino.
It was the second time this season Spurs had exited meekly from a European competition and, having faltered badly in the final stages of last year’s title race, drew suggestions that Pochettino’s side remains flawed.
The performance against Stoke showcased the other side of the Argentinian’s team and Mark Hughes’s admission that of all the leading clubs, Tottenham have presented his Stoke side with the most problems was telling.
Pochettino’s side remains a work in progress but that talent is indisputable. What is missing is confirmation of the winning mentality Antonio Conte believes will drive his Chelsea side to this year’s Premier League title.
That breakthrough may yet come for Spurs in the FA Cup and if Pochettino can engineer success at Wembley in May, it will be a major staging post on the journey to prove both manager and players are the real deal.
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