Football News

Noni Madueke: Pochettino explains how Chelsea dribble master is becoming a more complete player

By CJ Smith

Pochettino praises 'unbelievable' Chelsea dribble master Madueke, but not for the reason you'd expect

Published: 12:32, 3 May 2024

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino has singled out Noni Madueke for praise following his performance in Thursday’s 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur.

Madueke has struggled for minutes and consistency for much of this season but across the last month, he seems to have made a breakthrough with six consecutive starts across all competitions since April 7th. Pochettino’s trust has been rewarded with two goals and an assist during that time, while he was arguably Chelsea’s standout player against Spurs with a team-high five completed dribbles, as well as two chances created and six touches in the opposition box.

In fact, Madueke’s 14 completed dribbles across his last six games equals his total for the entire season prior, while his three direct goal involvements are just one behind his total for the rest of the campaign (Premier League and FA Cup play).

However, it was Madueke’s defensive output that impressed Pochettino the most against Spurs. Charged with helping emerging right-back Alfie Gilchrist deal with the likes of Son Heung-min, Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison, Madueke made two tackles, five recoveries and two clearances, while eight of his 12 overall defensive actions came inside his own half.

That work rate has been a rising trend in Madueke’s game, with the 22-year-old averaging 1.46 tackles and 2.2 possessions won in the defensive third per 90 minutes across his last six appearances. Pochettino is fully appreciative of the effort and was seen laughing and smiling on the pitch with the winger following Thursday’s full-time whistle.

The Argentine tactician believes it’s Madueke’s example that must be followed for Chelsea to build a successful future.

“Noni Madueke today, for me, unbelievable,” Pochettino told reporters. “If you analyse him from the start of the season; all the conversations and meetings, clips and videos, things like this. He was capable today of doing a fantastic job with the ball – of course, he is an offensive player – but without the ball, he is doing a fantastic job helping Alfie [Gilchrist] defend.

“That is what we need for the future, to build this competitive spirit.”

Madueke’s upturn in form has helped Chelsea to a run of just one defeat in their last 11 Premier League matches, climbing to eighth in the table as a result. Just a month ago, European qualification seemed highly unlikely, but the Blues are now just three points adrift of Manchester United in the Europa Conference League place with four games to go.

Up next is another London derby at home to West Ham on Sunday.