Chelsea slumped to a lacklustre 1-0 loss against Aston Villa in a mid-season friendly at the Al Nahyan Stadium.
A conducive exercise in getting minutes in the legs for Graham Potter’s men proved not to be a fruitful one in the scoreline, with a number of headaches for the Blues coach to mull over coming out of this fixture in Abu Dhabi.
It didn’t take long for the deadlock to be broken, with a nicely constructed Villains move concluded with Scottish international John McGinn sweeping home in the 7th minute. More bad news was to follow, with Armando Broja leaving the field just twenty minutes into proceedings after picking up a worrying injury.
There was plenty to ponder for Potter at the half-time interval, not least how to get his side back on level terms but also where Broja’s injury leaves a squad already wracked by lengthy spells on the sidelines.
Whatever wisdom he imparted to his squad during that break seemed to fall on deaf ears, with Robin Olsen scarcely troubled in between the sticks for the men from the Midlands.
It was far from perfect preparation for when Chelsea return to Premier League action against Bournemouth in two weeks time. Until then, here is how Absolute Chelsea rated the Blues’ performances against Aston Villa following the 0-1 reverse.
Marcus Bettinelli – 6/10
Not a great deal he could have done more to attempt to deny McGinn’s early effort. Otherwise, this was a perfectly adequate display from Chelsea’s third keeper, doing well particularly to first deny Ollie Watkins at a tight angle as the first half drew to a close and Leon Bailey on the hour mark.
Josh Brooking – 5/10
Sucked in to a needless challenge for the Aston Villa goal, for which he’ll be disappointed for his role in that. Oftentimes found himself positioned too narrow, not using the space at his disposal on the flank and furthermore vacating space for Unai Emery’s men to exploit.
Bashir Humphreys – 6/10
Certainly looked the most cool, composed and competent of the Chelsea backline. The versatile defender looked unfazed when pressed and did the fundamentals very well.
Alfie Gilchrist – 4/10 (65)
Found himself unexpectedly in the starting eleven by virtue of a late Trevoh Chalobah withdrawal. Caught a little flat-footed for the Birmingham outfits’ opener, finding himself unable to recover, and that became a bit of a theme with Ollie Watkins having some joy getting in behind the young defender.
Marc Cucurella – 5/10
It’s unclear whether the Spaniard is still carrying a knock or two, or whether it’s his recent bouts of illness that are the issue, but he seems a little stuck in a low gear for the Pensioners as of late. His offensive contribution – or lack thereof – is the main offending factor, seeming to struggle to find the pace to attack the opposite full-back. Of course, this is just a friendly, but some marked improvement is needed in the second half of the season compared to the first.
Charlie Webster – 6/10
Looks a really tidy operator, with laser-guided accuracy in the pass and some neat one touch play on display. Chelsea will be hoping to tie him down soon with some big clubs circling like a shark with interest in his situation.
Jorginho – 5/10
For someone who’s passing is so often metronomic and consistent, his radar seemed visibly off this afternoon save for one or two nice ideas that were in the main denied by the offside flag. It wouldn’t be unfair to say his two younger peers in the engine room were picking up the slack somewhat.
Lewis Hall – 8/10
Mature beyond his years in the centre of the park, dictating play and piling on pressure in the press with his energy. Quite evidently can bring genuine quality to the Chelsea first team following his purported permanent promotion from the youth ranks.
Omari Hutchinson – 7/10
There is a lot of excitement around this young man, and it was readily apparent to see why from the off here. A really lively and confident performance on the wing, not afraid to engage and take on his man. Very unfortunate to see his attempt at the end of an excellent mazing run cannon off the woodwork. Some bright ideas that didn’t always come off, and some raw decision-making, but plenty to like.
Armando Broja – 6/10 (24)
Started off sharp enough and full of tenacity, but sadly not able to get into full gear before a nasty looking injury saw the Albanian stretchered off in real pain. One hopes he has a speedy recovery, although the initial prognosis looks grim.
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang – 4/10 (65)
Looked pretty rusty to say the least, with the Gabonese completely ineffectual on the day and finding sights of goal few and far between for a striker of his quality who thrives off goalscoring. His teammates shoulder some of the blame for that with chance creation at a premium, but someone of his calibre needs to try and make things happen when it’s not automatically dropping his way. Especially poor with the timing of his runs off the shoulder.
Dion Rankine – 6/10 (24)
Introduced unexpectedly following Broja’s injury and seemed determined to make a good account of himself. Injected some decent pace in the channels.
Cesare Casadei – 6/10 (65)
His sheer physical presence was great to see, and this was an exciting taste of things to come in future.
Malik Mothersille – 5/10 (65)
Found service at a premium and therefore unable to stamp his mark on proceedings.
Ben Elliott – N/A (73)
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