Sarri passes test no 1.
Chelsea got the job done with a good second half performance against Malmo as Giroud, Barkley and Hudson-Odoi scored. Sarri was under pressure going into this game and so he selected a lineup that would have appeased some Chelsea fans temporarily. Caballero started in goal with Emerson, and Christensen coming in for Alonso and Rudiger. Kovacic played behind Kante and Barkley in the Jorginho position while Hudson-Odoi started alongside Giroud and willian in attack. The first 30 minutes of the game were poor from Chelsea as there were several miss placed passes and slow play all around. The game picked up as the teams approached half time but Malmo held on. Chelsea switched another gear in the 2nd half and Giroud opened the scoring in the 55th minute as Kante broke through the midfield and laid the ball off to Willian who crossed it in for a Giroud tap in. Emerson then broke into the Malmo final third and the Swedish side conceded a free kick in the 74th minute. Barkley then stepped up and scored a brilliant one as Chelsea doubled the lead. CHO sealed things off in the the 84th minute as Willian switched play to CHO who attacked the penalty area and drove a low ball into the net. 3 goals Cheslea fans happy and we progress to the Round of 16.
Post match Sarri stated that if Chelsea played like they did in the first 30 against City then we would get thrashed again. Sarri also praised CHO, Emerson, and Christensen on their displays and said that they would feature more. Sarri was asked whether he had talks with Roma to which he replied he had not and that they person in question was in Saudi Arabia. Sarri also questioned why the media did not put Emery under pressure but Sarri should know that the media don’t like Chelsea.
- Caballero – A good performance with no real problems to face, some much needed game time as well considering he might have to start against City.
- Azpilicueta – Probably the poorest player on the pitch and it is not often that I have said that about Dave. Azpi seems to be going through rough patch of form but with Zappacosta out through illness he had to feature.
- Rudiger – A solid display at the back but it remains to be seen whether he or Christensen will start alongside Luiz.
- Christensen – Another good performance and the hope is that he starts alongside Luiz against City as he brings a calmness to the central defensive area unlike when both Luiz and Rudiger are on the pitch.
- Emerson – Grew into the game and ended the 90 minutes as one of the better players. Got an assist for Barkley’s goal and had brilliant linkup play with the left hand side. Emerson needs to start against City, although the odds are that Alonso does.
- Kovacic – Kovacic had a better 2nd half as he dictated play well but the first 30 minutes showed why Sarri starts Jorginho in that position as he knows it well and passes the ball that bit faster. Still not a bad performance and one which he should feature in more often.
- Kante – Kante seemed to be playing deeper in this game although with the liberty to move up the pitch and he was crucial for several of Chelsea’s moves. People who dont want Chelsea regularly won’t see the impact that Kante makes and so pundits will always make the defensive argument. The fact is that Kante transcends any position.
- Barkley – Barkley finds it tough with the tactics but while his play was sloppy and he does stop attacks he did score a brilliant free kick when called upon and the only way is upward.
- Hudson-Odoi – When called upon CHO performs and he once again showed why he should start ahead of Willian and Pedro. With Pedro suffering a stomach virus it basically was fight to see who plays alongside Hazard and Higuain on Sunday and the hope is that CHO one that battle in Sarri’s eyes. Similar to Emerson though the odds are that Willian starts the game against City.
- Giroud – Giroud might find it tough to score in other competitions but the Europa League is his party and he got another goal making it 6 out of 7. A good performance and a goal is all you can ask from a striker.
- Willian – Not amazing and only began to perform well when the team was 2-0 up but he did get two assists. It remains to be seen who starts on Sunday but I would rather see CHO start with Willian coming on for him.
- Jorginho – Jorginho came on as a sub for Kante and was unfairly booed by a minority of the fans to whom I say you guys should be ashamed of yourselves. To his credit Jorginho laughed it off and passed the ball faster in his area.
- Loftus-Cheek – RLC came on for Barkley and played on the right hand side as he linked up well with CHO and if it were not for his back problem we obviously see him more. One hopes he starts against City but most likely he features off the bench.
- Ampadu – Ampadu came on for Azpi at right back but had little chance to impress although his link up play with CHO and RLC was awesome.
So, Chelsea head into the City game with a win, its a final and so the ambience will be different than a cup game. The odds are heavily against us but one can only hope that the players channel previous final performances and then what happens will happen. COME ON YOU BLUES!!!!