Player Ratings: Chelsea 0-0 Fulham | Premier League
Chelsea and Fulham played out a dull 0-0 Premier League stalemate at Stamford Bridge on Friday night.
On an occasion that was billed as a new dawn for Graham Potter’s side in the wake of a serious spending splurge in the January transfer window, the Blues were positively toothless up against their neighbours, who had sprung a shock 2-1 win in the reverse fixture last month.
The first 45 minutes was tepid at best, with the Pensioners failing to register a shot on target. Kai Havertz’s delicate dink was denied by the woodwork on the cusp of the break and was the sum of Chelsea’s attacking output, with Kepa Arrizabalaga called into action to deny an excellent Andreas Pereira effort.
It was more a false dawn than a new dawn for Graham Potter, who had much to chew over at the interval. Indeed he turned to his bench and new signing Noni Madueke for inspiration, after record signing Enzo Fernandez had been one of very few positives.
Any danger of the Blues mounting any serious danger on the Fulham goalmouth seemed for the birds. Fernandez went close with a delicious looping shot, while substitute David Datro Fofana saw his effort cleared off the line after rounding Bernd Leno.
Lots of investment pumped into the squad, but there is no shortcut to gelling together. The London derbies keep coming thick and fast for the pensioners with a trip to West Ham United next weekend. Until then, here is how Absolute Chelsea rated the players’ performance during the dismal draw on Friday night.
Kepa Arrizabalaga – 6/10
Not entirely convincing in some moments under pressure, but his wonderful save to deny a stinging Andreas Pereira drive from distance in the first half is the perfect microcosm for the Spaniard’s improvement in the past twelve months or so. There was a time not so long ago where every long-range shot seemed destined for the back of the net, yet the former Bilbao stopper has become the dependable man between the sticks for the Blues.
Reece James – 6/10 (60)
Not entirely as swashbuckling a performance on the right flank as Chelsea fans have come to expect, but it is understandable given his return from a long period of injury. In many respects it was a surprise to see him start, given his return was halted prematurely against Bournemouth in December. The energetic Antonee Robinson put him through his paces, and it was good minutes in the legs for the world-class right back.
Thiago Silva – 8/10
Kai Havertz being offside aside, his sublime pass midway through the first period summed up that Chelsea are as dependent on the indomitable Brazilian for chance creation as they are in pretty much every other department. Bullied the powerful Aleksandar Mitrović out of the game completely, breathing down his neck and not giving him an inch.
Benoit Badiashile – 7/10
Just looks a man completely unfazed and unbothered by anything that is put before him. There is a composure that belies his years and he never looked out of control, which is impressive given he had to cover so often for his colleague to his left. Will be disappointed not to be registered for Chelsea’s Champions League charge – and he’ll be a big miss too on the early evidence.
Marc Cucurella – 4/10 (84)
Kenny Tete had him on toast all evening. Caught flat-footed by the runner in behind time and time and time again. That would be understandable if Cucurella was bombing forward and making a noteworthy attacking contribution, but he seemed allergic to the final third too.
Conor Gallagher – 4/10
Completely misprofiled in a ‘double six’ position, without the tactical knowhow and positional discipline to play the role effectively. Worked exceptionally hard in the duels with a solid Cottagers’ midfield unit, but his passing was utterly woeful.
Enzo Fernandez – 7/10
The new British transfer record signing was involved from the off, getting stuck into tackles and pinging his trademark switches of play in the direction of Reece James. Looks like he will click into the physicality of the Premier League with little bother given his tenacity and calmness under pressure. A tad quieter in the second half.
Mason Mount – 4/10 (75)
Deployed in the number ten role yet so infrequently finding space in the hole for his teammates to break the lines. When they did, his decision-making and final quality of pass was just indescribably poor. Creatively bereft and more hindrance than help, Chelsea’s long-time talisman is quite frankly looking like a square peg in a new round-holed shaped era.
Hakim Ziyech – 4/10 (60)
Hakim Ziyech’s physical form was in attendance at Stamford Bridge on the evening, but for large periods of this one his mind was in Paris – and maybe that’s understandable in the circumstances. The former Ajax man has always drifted in and out of games throughout his career and this was no different, with a sensational ball to feed in Havertz on the stroke of half-time a reminder of the quality he possesses, but which scarcely surfaces in a blue shirt.
Mykhailo Mudryk – 4/10 (45)
Essentially a bit-part player before he was withdrawn at the break. The Ukrainian was reduced to very few touches of the ball, either by virtue of good defending from the opposition or by the complete dearth of chemistry with his peers. Smatterings of good ideas on display, but very little influence.
Kai Havertz – 6/10
Feeding off scraps up front, it was always going to be a tough ask for the German with him being so comparatively lightweight compared to the ‘land of the giants’ Fulham backline. Still put in the hard yards and unlucky not to grab a goal or two for his endeavours.
Noni Madueke – 6/10 (45)
Plenty to like from the young tricky English winger. Still finding his feet, of course, but he looked very direct and the most likely to fashion something up for the Blues at the top end of the field.
Cesar Azpilicueta – 6/10 (60)
501 appearances and not out for Mr Chelsea. A steady hand to come on and give Reece James some rest.
Raheem Sterling – 5/10 (60)
Offered very little upon his introduction, not even looking like a fresh pair of legs who could beat his man.
David Datro Fofana – N/A (75)
Ben Chilwell – N/A (84)