Paul Merson fires warning to Pochettino and Chelsea ahead of Middlesbrough clash

Paul Merson has warned Mauricio Pochettino and his Chelsea side that Tuesday’s game against Middlesbrough is one they need to win if they want to keep their season alive.

The Blues will face Boro at Stamford Bridge for the second leg of their semi-final tie on Tuesday night, after going down 1-0 in the reverse fixture.

Getting a win over Michael Carrick’s men would put Chelsea in a great position to win their first trophy under Pochettino, but Merson has now warned that the game will not be an easy one.

“This is a massive week in Chelsea’s season, which could fall apart in four days,” Merson told Sky Sports.

“If they win their Carabao Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough then beat Aston Villa, they’re knocking out a big team from the FA Cup as well. Then when you’re a few points off sixth place, all of a sudden it doesn’t look so bad.

“If Chelsea don’t go through to the final on Tuesday night, I can’t see them beating Aston Villa on Friday night, so it’s a big few days for them.

“If they did lose to Middlesbrough, where would it leave Mauricio Pochettino? Middlesbrough will try to get out and frustrate Chelsea.

“They have got to take it in segments, maybe 10 minutes or 20 minutes at a time. Middlesbrough just need to get through the first 20 minutes but if they don’t, I’ll be shocked. Chelsea don’t blow teams away so Middlesbrough will be in this game for a long time.”