Ben Chilwell insists that a win in Sunday's Carabao Cup final against Liverpool would be 'more important' for where Chelsea are today than their 2021 Champions League triumph

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If Mauricio Pochettino is to succeed in tripping up Jurgen Klopp on his last dance, he knows it will take more than tying the German’s shoelaces together to stop him grinning at Wembley.

Yet the Chelsea manager’s preparations for this Carabao Cup final have gone beyond scheming on the training pitch. They have involved Pochettino — part manager, part psychologist, by the Argentine’s own admission — spending much of this week at Cobham speaking with this £1billion troupe of talent to make sure they understand why Sunday is so significant.

Why the Carabao Cup is worth more than its modest prize pot of £100,000 and passage into next season’s Europa Conference League play-offs. Why they have the chance to prove the ‘project’ — one of Pochettino’s favourite words — is working.

Why they should not fear Liverpool, even if they carry the extra motivation of making sure Klopp’s farewell tour is memorable. Why this could be the start of something special.

This is a ‘World Cup final’ for Chelsea’s manager, according to Chris Sutton on Mail Sport’s It’s All Kicking Off podcast this week, and Pochettino is forever striving to make sure his players are in the proper frame of mind.

Mauricio Pochettino drove home the importance of Sunday's League Cup final during training

Mauricio Pochettino drove home the importance of Sunday's League Cup final during training

Mauricio Pochettino drove home the importance of Sunday's League Cup final during training

Chelsea come into the tie as underdogs but they remain a dangerous proposition for any team

Chelsea come into the tie as underdogs but they remain a dangerous proposition for any team 

Ben Chilwell could be the oldest Chelsea player on the pitch on Sunday if Raheem Sterling and Thiago Silva miss out, with the Blues becoming a youthful outfit since Todd Boehly's arrival

Ben Chilwell could be the oldest Chelsea player on the pitch on Sunday if Raheem Sterling and Thiago Silva miss out, with the Blues becoming a youthful outfit since Todd Boehly's arrival

The words have hit home with Ben Chilwell, who will be their oldest player on the pitch if Raheem Sterling, 29, and Thiago Silva, 39, miss out.

The 27-year-old won the Champions League in 2021 under Thomas Tuchel, yet he was bullish in explaining why the Carabao Cup would be a bigger accomplishment for the club in its current state.

‘Not in prestige but in the way we want the club to go,’ Chilwell said this week. ‘The prestige of the Champions League is higher but this is arguably more important in terms of where the club is now.

‘With the group we have now — a young group, where there have been ups and downs this season — to get this one as a team and staff and with the fans, it would be massive. Arguably bigger than the Champions League.

‘When I joined Chelsea I came in as one of the younger players and in the last few years it’s completely flipped. I’ve taken on the role as one of the more experienced players. It’s important for me to try to emphasise to all the new players why silverware is so important.’

Full backs will be key on Sunday. There could be battles such as Conor Bradley versus Cole Palmer; the war of the whippersnappers. Andy Robertson versus Sterling; the elder engagement. Malo Gusto versus Luis Diaz; a scrap.

Then there is Chilwell versus Mohamed Salah, should the Egyptian play after missing Liverpool’s 4-1 win over Luton on Wednesday. ‘I’d love him to play,’ Chilwell told Mail Sport. ‘You’re playing at Wembley in a cup final. If I’m playing against Salah, it would be exciting.’

Liverpool may be in the midst of an injury crisis but Chelsea have one as well, unable to call on several first-teamers because of a thigh here, a knee there.

Chilwell has suffered three cup final losses at Wembley since joining Chelsea — to Leicester in the FA Cup in 2021, and to Liverpool in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup in 2022. He might have been lining up in red tomorrow had he signed for Liverpool in 2016 when Klopp was chasing him.

The England star has suffered two Wembley defeats against the Reds since moving to Chelsea, including the FA Cup final in 2022. Jurgen Klopp pictured celebrating Liverpool's triumph

The England star has suffered two Wembley defeats against the Reds since moving to Chelsea, including the FA Cup final in 2022. Jurgen Klopp pictured celebrating Liverpool's triumph

The left back was on loan at Huddersfield, then managed by David Wagner, who was best man at Klopp’s wedding the year before.

Wagner recommended Chilwell to his best friend at Liverpool but Chilwell signed a five-year contract upon his return to Leicester instead, only leaving in 2020 once Chelsea offered the Foxes £50million.

Like Klopp, Pochettino takes a keen interest in his full backs. Danny Rose once played in a 3-1 win for Tottenham at Crystal Palace and thought he had had a good game, only for Pochettino to show him a video nasty of his performance with 26 clips proving what he had done wrong at Selhurst Park.

Chilwell laughed when Mail Sport brought up this story, saying he had received similar treatment. There was a moment during last week’s 1-1 draw at Manchester City when he could have played a ball over the top for Sterling. He was told what’s what by his boss afterwards.

‘He is a very demanding manager, which is what you want,’ said Chilwell. ‘There will be training sessions and games where you think you’ve done well, then he’ll pull you in. Then there are other games where you don’t think you did well, but he does. He is very good at keeping you on a level.’

Chelsea’s players had an honest conversation with each other after the 4-2 league defeat by Wolves at Stamford Bridge three weeks ago. Pochettino was doing media commitments while his men realigned their focus, reminding themselves they are still in the FA Cup and had this cup final too.

Sometimes it is better to let the boys solve their own issues, unlike when it was leaked that owner Todd Boehly had used the word ‘embarrassing’ during a post-match talking-to after a home defeat by Brighton.

Chilwell revealed Pochettino is very demanding but insists it is what you want from a manager

Chilwell revealed Pochettino is very demanding but insists it is what you want from a manager

Boehly will be at Wembley hoping to see his team win their first trophy since his takeover

Boehly will be at Wembley hoping to see his team win their first trophy since his takeover

For the new owner there could be reminders of the previous regime on Sunday. It was the final of this competition which began Roman Abramovich’s gold rush in 2005 — the first trophy in return for his millions as Chelsea beat Liverpool 3-2.

Boehly will be at Wembley hoping to see his team win their first trophy for all that transfer outlay; a reward in return for his risk. He will be joined there by Behdad Eghbali, the co-owner with whom rumours of a rift have been dismissed by sources close to both.

Boehly, Eghbali, Pochettino and Chilwell realise they will be up against it as Klopp and Liverpool aim to secure at least one trophy in their final fling of a season together, but they could not care less.

Pochettino and his players are only thinking of kickstarting their own story by adding some silver to Boehly’s gold.

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