How Pochettino can solve Chelsea’s midfield crisis thanks to the works of a 13th century poet

IT IS HIGHLY unlikely that Mauricio Pochettino is familiar with the work of Rumi.

Whether the renowned Islamic poet and mystic had the tactical dilemmas facing Chelsea’s head coach in mind while dreaming up his scholarly works in 13th century Afghanistan, we will never know.

AFPMauricio Pochettino’s side have struggled for any consistency this season[/caption]

Getty – ContributorThe Argentine may not be aware of the works of Rumi[/caption]

It’s fair to say Rumi was not a regular in The Shed at Stamford Bridge. Yet one of his most famous quotations strikes right at the heart of Pochettino’s problems trying to transform his team into consistent challengers at the top end of the Premier League.

It was Rumi who wrote so prophetically: “Two birds tied together. They will not be able to fly even though they have four wings.”

He could have scribbled that on the back of his programme from so many of Chelsea’s games this season with regard to Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez.

And it is with that in mind that an unfortunate hernia issue for one half of the most expensive midfield duo in British football could turn out to be a blessing in disguise that even Rumi wouldn’t have seen coming.

There is a feeling among regular Chelsea watchers that while it is a blow on a personal level for Fernandez to be ruled out for the rest of the season with his injury problem, it may yet turn to Pochettino’s advantage.

For it allows Caicedo to roam that patch in front of his defence with greater freedom.

Both players are exceptional individual talents.

Caicedo was superb for Brighton last season, prompting Chelsea to splash a potential British record £115million on the Ecuadorian.

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Fernandez is a World Cup winner aged just 23. A quick look at his YouTube highlights underlines the dazzling skills in his feet.

You cannot blame Chelsea for being tempted with both players. Yet put them together and maybe this is part of the reason why the club cannot drive at the opposition, why they cannot press for large chunks of games and why they seem unable to break from defence as quickly as other top teams can.

It is not such about how Chelsea play with the two players treading on each other’s toes as part of the same line-up – it is more about what happens when one is NOT there.

Take the recent 6-0 destruction of Everton for example. Fernandez missed the entire game because of his fitness and illness issues according to the head coach.

Consequently, Everton were ripped to shreds, with Caicedo partnering Conor Gallagher in midfield – a player who can play as both forward thinking with a ‘safety first’ approach too.

As a result, Chelsea went into the following Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City in bubbly mood but with Fernandez back in the side.

They created chances but failed to produce the goal which would have surely been enough to see off a leggy City team who dribbled one in with just minutes to go of normal time.

Moises Caicedo was given freedom to roam without Enzo Fernandez next to him

Caicedo was much more subdued alongside the Argentine against Arsenal

Fernandez played primarily on the right side of midfield against the Gunners

Caicedo was everywhere against Everton in Fernandez’s absence

Gallagher started the season as a holding midfielder for Chelsea for the first ten games. He was man of the match in the opener against Liverpool.

Carney Chukwuemeka was played as a ‘number ten’ supporting the attack.

The midfield was fluid then Pochettino settled on Fernandez and Caicedo as what is known as ‘double sixes’ : leaving Gallagher in no-man’s land.

With Fernandez now out until next season, Gallagher can partner Caicedo as a bridge between midfield and the forwards.

In particular he can leave the ‘ten’ role to Cole Palmer, infinitely better suited to that than Gallagher as the 20 goals this season underline.

Chelsea have five games left this season to discover if this new formation works consistently. If it does then it may store up problems ahead for when Fernandez is fit again.

If Pochettino remains in his job until next season, he will find it awkward not playing a £106m World Cup-winning midfielder every week.

Try telling your boss the nine-figure footballer he splashed out on is a luxury. That is when the real trouble will start.

But Rumi probably already knew that years ago.

GettyMoises Caicedo’s role has varied in recent weeks[/caption]

GettyEnzo Fernandez has suffered a season-ending injury[/caption]

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