A game of mixed emotions.
Chelsea progressed into the 4th round of the FA Cup for the 20th season in a row as we beat Nottingham Forest at home. The starting lineup was finally one that Chelsea fans were really excited to see with the inclusion of Ruben, CHO, and Ampadu. Caballero was in goal followed by Zappacosta, Christensen, David Luiz, and Emerson in defence. Fabregas, Ampadu, and Barkley made up the midfield, while CHO, Morata, and Ruben made up the attack.
The first half dragged out as mostly all Chelsea games do at the moment with Chelsea dominating possession and playing most of the game in Nottingham’s half. Nottingham defended with men behind the ball and so the task of actually scoring a goal was fairly harder. Morata missed a peach of a header and then was unfairly dragged back by Yacob in what should have been a red card offence. Ruben finally managed to get a penalty mid way through the second half after a quick turn in the box. Fabregas stepped up and potentially could have scored a farewell goal at the Bridge but he missed with what was a poor penalty. Ruben was then substituted 5 minutes before half time after the apparent back injury seemed to flair up again. Ruben was distraught and one can only hope he bounces back as he always does.
Hazard came on for Ruben in the second half and CHO was moved to right wing and the Chelsea seemed to shift into another gear. The first goal came in the 49th minute as CHO received the ball on the right wing and dribbled past the defender to deliver a beautiful low cross into the box which Morata instinctively tapped in. Morata then missed a blatant tap in although he would have been deemed offside. The second goal came in the 59th minute as CHO once again dribbled past a few defenders to deliver a cross into the box which Morata headed in. No celebrations from Morata for either goal and not even a simple smile. Azpi was then brought on for Morata late in the second half in a tactical change while Fabregas had a slight calf problem and came off to a standing ovation as he was replaced by Kante. The final whistle blew and Chelsea progressed Fabregas walked around the pitch to rounds of applause and shed a few tears in what is most likely his last game in English football.
Player Review –
- Caballero – Not much to do in goal but made decent saves when called upon.
- Zappacosta – Great going forward and really added an attacking threat but defensively Azpi is still the better option as he continues to improve.
- Christensen – A good game by Christensen as he played well alongside Luiz, central defence is definitely an area that does not need strengthening.
- Luiz – Marshalled the defence brilliantly and had another great game at the back started of several forward moves as well.
- Emerson – Great overlapping runs and good all around as the question continues to be asked why he does not start ahead of Alonso in the Premier League.
- Fabregas – Fabregas had a decent game but lacked the legs could have scored but his brilliant best is definitely past him as bows out a Premier League legend.
- Ampadu – Great overall game as he played in Kante’s position and he is a born leader as his display showed. Was calm and composed and led the game in the middle providing and distributing the ball quickly, and great sub to have and a future starter for sure.
- Barkley – Looked lost at times had a couple of decent moments but the pace of the game seemed to leave him behind. While Loftus-Cheek’s injury will give him a little breathing room he needs to return to his early season form to be selected ahead of Kovacic.
- Ruben – Great game showed strength and acceleration and great turn of pace on countless occasions. Sad that he had to come off as our winger crisis worsens. Hopefully he is back soon but only if he is 100 percent fit.
- Morata – Morata’s best and worst were on showcase in the game. Missed an open chance in the first half and but showed great movement. Got the lead in the first half and then missed an easier chance, and then scored a header soon after. Morata needs to be provided the service to prosper while his confidence issue still seems to be a problem as not even a slight smile was given after his goals. He walked straight to the dressing rooms after being substituted and his future at the club remains a mystery. CHO has provided three goals for Morata and he needs the service but the fans have also contributed to his situation with the lack of support and towards a player who really seems to rely on what the public thinks of him.
- CHO – Man of the match Odoi was awesome, he ceased the moment given to him and Sarri needs to start him in the game against Spurs. On the left he had a good game but on the right he lit up the second half and 3 assists and a goal in 300 some minutes shows why he needs to start ahead of Willian and Pedro. Chelsea can not let him go and he needs to start from now on.
- Hazard – Never played more than 30 percent of his capacity as it was obvious he was saving his energy for the game against Spurs.
- Azpilicueta – Good minutes on the left as Emerson was pushed further up in a tactical experiment by Sarri.
- Kante – On in the final moments for Fabregas and played the Jorginho position. Not much to talk about as did not really play much.
As I said a game of mixed emotions, all I can say January is going to be a very interesting month with players coming and going and we might have a fairly different squad by the end of it. Chelsea now have a two day break before taking Spurs on at Wembley in the Carabao Cup Semi-Final first leg. COME ON YOU BLUES!!!