Raheem Sterling Sparkles As Mauricio Pochettino Earns Dirst Chelsea Win
Raheem Sterling sparkled with a brace and Nicolas Jackson bagged his first goal for the club as Chelsea swept aside Luton 3-0 to give Mauricio Pochettino his first Premier League win as Blues boss
Raheem Sterling sparkled with a brace and Nicolas Jackson bagged his first goal for the club as Chelsea swept aside Luton 3-0 to give Mauricio Pochettino his first Premier League win as Blues boss on Friday. Sterling extended his impressive start to the season with a dazzling display that featured a sublime opener followed by a well-taken second and then an assist for Jackson.
The England forward's return to form is the first sign Pochettino is starting to revitalise a team that struggled so badly last season.
Pochettino, who only took charge in July, has quickly brought the best out of Sterling after his career looked in danger of fizzling out following a lacklustre first season with Chelsea.
"Mindset-wise I came to Chelsea at a difficult period. The most important thing is I've had a look at myself and I want to get back to being obsessed with football, it's as simple as that," Sterling said.
"Your head can be a bit blurry and sometimes you need that clear vision. My love for football is too much, for me at this age of 28, to fizzle out."
Pochettino added: "Raheem needs to feel the confidence and be free on the pitch. I am very pleased for him and he needs to keep going and contribute with goals and assists."
Tipping Jackson as a future star after his maiden goal, Pochettino said: "He is going to score goals, it is a matter of time and he can be one of the greatest strikers in the Premier League."
After drawing 1-1 with Liverpool and then losing 3-1 at West Ham, Pochettino will hope Chelsea's first home win since March kick-starts his reign. But it is early days for the former Tottenham and Paris Saint Germain boss, who is fielding an overhauled team with a youthful look at present.
Pochettino was without nine first teamers due to injury, with skipper Reece James and summer signings Christopher Nkunku and Romeo Lavia among the absentees.
'Only the beginning'
Ecuador midfielder Moises Caicedo was solid in his first Chelsea start since his British record £115 million from Brighton. Caicedo had endured a nightmare debut against West Ham as he gave away a penalty and looked rusty after coming off the bench, but this was a more steady display.
"The trust and confidence this victory will provide we can use for the future. I saw in the last nine or 10 games Chelsea didn't win so that is why it was important today to win," Pochettino said.
"It is only the beginning and we have to work a lot on the way we want to play but the commitment of the players is fantastic."
While Chelsea have great expectations after spending over £350 million on new signings since the end of last seasons, promoted Luton's more modest ambition is somehow avoiding relegation.
After 31 years outside the top-flight, this was the first of the glamour fixtures Luton dreamed of when they languished in non-league obscurity just nine years ago. Luton's status as the smallest club ever to play in the Premier League has made them firm favourites for relegation and they have already lost their opening two games.
Sterling opened the scoring in eye-catching fashion in the 17th minute, cutting in from the right flank and slaloming past three bewildered Luton defenders before planting a fine low finish into the far corner.
Against the run of play, Luton almost snatched a shock equaliser through Ryan Giles, who took Elijah Adebayo's pass and hit a deflected shot that drew a panicked save from Robert Sanchez. But Sterling ensured Chelsea's dominance would not go unrewarded as he bagged their killer second goal in the 68th minute.
Malo Gusto provided the assist with a low cross that Sterling met with a clinical finish from eight yards. Sterling turned provider seven minutes later with a teasing cross that eluded Luton's defence before Senegal striker Jackson alertly poked home from close-range.