Mauricio Pochettino has suggested Nicolas Jackson could be a regular feature on the left wing for Chelsea and feels his game is more suited to playing out wide than as a focal point.
The 22-year-old lined up on the left flank for Chelsea’s midweek win over Aston Villa in the FA Cup, with Cole Palmer deployed as a false nine up top.
Jackson, who had only returned from the Africa Cup of Nations a few days earlier, delivered an excellent performance and had a hand in the opener, dribbling into the box and pulling the ball back before Conor Gallagher eventually fired into the top corner.
He then netted the west Londoners’ second goal at Villa Park, coming in off the wing and diverting a header past Emi Martinez from the centre of the six-yard box.
While Pochettino was keen to stress that he still wants to see Jackson pop up in those positions and play with freedom, he ultimately feels his characteristics are best suited to a role out wide rather than leading the line through the middle.
Asked about Jackson’s role on the left, Pochettino explained as cited by Sports Central: ‘The starting point, yes, he was on the left. But football is dynamic and he has to move, no? ‘Yes, I think he is a player that can play in this place. I am so happy because the characteristics, he always plays better when he is facing the goal rather than his back to the goal. ‘He is more comfortable. The pace, the speed, the capacity to arrive from the second line. ‘He showed in the goal he scored how he arrives from the second line and can score. ‘I am so happy because the commitment is amazing, also. After arriving from the Africa Cup of Nations, it is important for him to recover and feel the net. So happy. Very pleased with his performance.’
Chelsea had shipped eight goals in back-to-back Premier League defeats to Liverpool and Wolves prior to their FA Cup win over Villa and Pochettino is hoping they can now build on their most recent performance.
He continued: ‘I think in the way we are training, the way the players behave, the attitude we are showing – I think we are improving. ‘It’s about winning the next game and getting the feelings we build from Aston Villa.’
Chelsea travel to Selhurst Park on Monday night to take on a struggling Crystal Palace team who are without a number of key players, with a win enough to take them back into the top half of the table..