Lewis Hall was the standout performer as Chelsea cruised to a 5-1 win over Chesterfield in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.
Thomas Tuchel sprang a big surprise by naming a largely first-choice starting lineup, with Lewis Hall the only youngster picked by the Chelsea boss. The Blues were utterly dominant and never let Chesterfield get on top of them until the game’s dying embers.
The deadlock was broken in the sixth minute when Timo Werner got on the scoresheet after the ball fell kindly to him. Shortly after, the hosts were two to the good, as Callum Hudson-Odoi produced a composed finish after being set up by Christian Pulisic. Moments later, Romelu Lukaku put Chelsea three up, scoring with a simple close-range finish after being found by the impressive Hall.
Chelsea ended the first half 4-0 up, as Andreas Christensen scored his second goal of the season from close range. Early in the second half, the west Londoners made it 5-0, as Hakim Ziyech converted the penalty after Calvin Miller brought down Christian Pulisic.
However, the loudest cheer was saved for a shock Chesterfield goal after Akwasi Asante scored from a rebound after Marcus Bettinelli produced a tame save to deny Kabongo Tshimanga. That goal did not matter much in the grand scheme of things, though, as Chelsea secured safe passage to the FA Cup fourth round. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Thomas Tuchel’s men.
Marcus Bettinelli: 6/10
One of two Chelsea players to make their full debuts, Bettinelli barely had anything to do in the game but will be disappointed with his effort to deny Kabongo Tshimanga, as the rebound fell kindly for Akwasi Asante to score Chesterfield’s consolation goal.
Malang Sarr: 7/10
At a time when he is constantly linked with foreign clubs over a possible loan deal, Sarr needed a big performance to make his mark. While the young Frenchman hardly put a foot wrong, he was all over the place when Chesterfield played around Chelsea in the build-up to their goal. Otherwise, there was not much to fault Sarr, who won each of his contested duels and completed 96 per cent of his attempted passes.
Andreas Christensen: 8/10
Christensen played for only an hour as Tuchel looked to ease his comeback process. The Dane was solid at the back, for the most part, and particularly imperious in the air. His goal in the first half was the cherry on top, as he showed good composure to loop his header into the Chesterfield goal.
Lewis Hall: 9/10
Handed his first-team debut, Hall showed composure and maturity to produce a dominant performance beyond his developing years. Not for one second did it seem like he is a 17-year-old midfielder playing as a makeshift centre-back. Hall had the license to charge forward at will, and, as a result, he was involved in the first three goals, even delivering the assist for Romelu Lukaku’s strike.
The teenage prodigy was particularly impressive in the defensive phases, as he covered ground smartly and won a staggering ten duels. Hall could be getting a few more starts in the second half of the campaign.
• Won the ball and started the move for the first goal.
• Won the ball and got the assist for the third goal.
Lewis Hall… ? pic.twitter.com/9BziLzbp2h
— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) January 8, 2022
Hakim Ziyech: 8/10
After impressing in a hybrid right wing-back role earlier in the week against Tottenham Hotspur, Tuchel installed Ziyech in the position again versus Chesterfield. The Moroccan international showed good imagination and always looked to make things happen. He was desperate for a goal on the day, finally getting it from the penalty spot in the second half. Tuchel might be on to something here.
Saul Niguez: 7/10
After a reasonably solid performance against Tottenham Hotspur, Saul received a second start in a row. And the Spaniard carried his form into Saturday’s game, carrying the ball forward with confidence and covering the space in front of the defenders. His only blemish was being overrun in the build-up to Asante’s goal. Otherwise, there was very little to fault in Saul’s performance.
Mateo Kovacic: 8/10
Saturday was a big occasion for Kovacic, as he was handed the captain’s armband in the absence of Cesar Azpilicueta, Jorginho and Thiago Silva. The Croat did lead by example, pulling the strings brilliantly in the first half while also playing two key passes. He was taken off at half-time, with Tuchel continuing his easing-in process.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: 8/10
Hudson-Odoi’s roles are constantly being shuffled, but he is seamlessly taking to each of them. Starting as a left wing-back against Chesterfield, the 21-year-old was a constant outlet down the left flank and played a game-high four key passes.
He capped off another solid performance with a brilliant curler. With Ziyech showing promising signs as a right wing-back, Hudson-Odoi could be a handy alternative to Marcos Alonso on the left flank.
Hudson-Odoi with the curler ? pic.twitter.com/LBBecj3PgE
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 8, 2022
Christian Pulisic: 7/10
Despite playing for an hour, Pulisic did not see the ball as much as he would have liked, with most of Chelsea’s moves flowing through the left flank. But the USMNT international completed each of his attempted passes and won the penalty that Ziyech converted for Chelsea’s fifth.
Timo Werner: 8/10
Making his first start since recovering from his latest setback, Werner looked eager to make up for the lost time. While he did not get into scoring positions consistently, the German international combined smartly with Hudson-Odoi and Lukaku to carve out openings. Werner also set Chelsea on their way by opening the scoring in the sixth minute, and that goal will give him a lot of confidence.
Romelu Lukaku: 7/10
After a horrific previous week, Lukaku has done supremely well to earn respect from the Chelsea fans again. While he was not in full flow against Tottenham, the Belgian striker was superb here, playing an impressive three key passes while also grabbing a goal for himself, all in one half. He might have been irked to be taken off at half-time, but bigger challenges await in the coming week.
Romelu Lukaku has scored in three of his last four Chelsea games.
⚽️vs Aston Villa
Brilliant. ? pic.twitter.com/q8DLRIHSoo
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 8, 2022
Kai Havertz: 7/10
Coming off the back of an influential performance earlier in the week, Havertz continued from where he left off, with his intelligent runs leaving the Chesterfield defenders in a daze. The German international completed all his attempted passes and did well to keep things ticking.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek: 7/10
Loftus-Cheek replaced Kovacic at the break and took on the mantle of pulling the strings for the Blues higher up the pitch. While he was not as influential as the Croat, the Englishman still played some fascinating passes and hardly ever lost the ball cheaply.
Harvey Vale: 6/10
Vale produced a solid cameo in the final half an hour, even though Chelsea had entered cruise control mode before he was introduced. In all fairness, he should have been handed a start.
Lewis Baker: 6/10
Chelsea’s forgotten man was given half an hour to make an impression, but there was barely anything to do other than keep things ticking ahead of full-time. He did not cover himself in glory in the build-up to the Chesterfield goal.
Ross Barkley: 6/10
Barkley did not have much to do in the final quarter of the game apart from helping Chelsea see the game out.