Mauricio Pochettino has challenged his Chelsea players to “have the balls” to win recover possession back quickly and show more overall resilience.

The Blues have endured a hugely inconsistent first season under the Argentine and again are languishing just above mid-table in the Premier League.

After a thrilling comeback win over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, Pochettino was frustrated by his side’s inability to compete with Sheffield United’s tenacity in the tackle three days later – a game Chelsea could only muster a 2-2 draw in after Oli McBurnie’s injury-time equaliser.

Chelsea front up against Everton in the Premier League’s final game of the weekend, and Pochettino has firmly outlined what his players need to improve if they are to reach the level they want to play at week in, week out.

“We have enough talent to win games. But the most difficult thing in Premier League is another phase, when you don’t have the ball,” he told reporters.

Conor Gallagher, Enzo Fernandez

Chelsea had to settle for a draw against the Blades / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

“When you don’t have the ball, you need to have the balls. Understand? To have the balls to recover the ball.

“It’s a process to become very competitive, very tough. And I think the way that we drew the game against Sheffield, we need to all feel very disappointed. Because did you see the goal? We lose one challenge, we lose the second, the third and the fourth and the fifth. And then we concede in the same action. And that was the last minute of the game.

“It’s about having the capacity to go there and to say, ‘We are a winner, I’m going to win this challenge, I’m going to be strong, I’m going to defend, I’m going to not concede a goal’. That is not more than capacity, you know, mentality, and all being together.”

Victory for Chelsea would close the gap to eighth-place West Ham United to just a point, with Pochettino’s side also having two games in hand. They currently trail Newcastle United, who are sixth, and Manchester United, who are seventh, by six points, meaning Europa League qualification remains a real possibility if a consistent run of results can be strung together.