Chelsea are through to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup after a battling 1-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
Blues’ boss Mauricio Pochettino saw his side score for the first time in the month of September, with his leading man Nicolas Jackson answering the critics with a smartly taken finish to down the sorry Seagulls and send them back to the south coast roundly humbled.
It was the visitors who enjoyed the two best chances of the first half, and both came from the Pensioners being far too pedestrian in possession under the Brighton press. Joao Pedro could only lift his gilt-edged chance on the roof of the net after Robert Sanchez offered it up on a plate, and the goalkeeper did well to make himself big and palm away an Ansu Fati effort.
Fortunes were to reverse after the interval. Brighton were caught cold, leaving the excellent on the evening Cole Palmer to feed in a cute ball for Jackson, who calmly steered it beyond the helpless Bart Verbruggen to send Stamford Bridge into raptures.
After a string of disappointing results had left Pochettino feeling embattled, this hard fought win feels like a chance to turn a page and build some momentum with a visit to neighbours Fulham on the cards next Monday. In the meantime, here is how Absolute Chelsea rated the player’s performances in west London.
Robert Sanchez – 5/10
Incredibly questionable distribution, typified by an utterly bizarre moment of madness that almost gifted the Seagulls the lead when he inexplicably passed straight to Joao Pedro. Made a big stop not long after, but the chance in itself came about partially due to his decision-making.
Axel Disasi – 7/10
A quietly composed defensive clinic from the former AS Monaco man. Blocked any ball or man who entered his orbit with minimal fuss, and kept it simple when clearing his lines and the danger.
Levi Colwill – 7/10
Solid as a rock and some excellent line-breaking passing on display. Not too difficult to see why tonight’s opponents wanted to break their transfer record for him – even if the offer was a million miles from his valuation – but he is a clear natural fit at a bigger club.
Marc Cucurella – 6/10
The tricky Kaoru Mitoma skipped past him easily early doors and the natural fear he was in for a tough evening was prevalent. Yet while he was beaten easily on a few occasions, he did consistently recover well. The Japanese winger was a tricky proposition, especially with Cucurella playing on a different flank than usual, but he just about kept him quiet. His passing ability, nippy tackling and general work-rate also felt befitting of the £62m Chelsea handed over to the other side.
Ben Chilwell – 4/10
A bit of a mess all things considered from the captain for the evening. Easily bypassed on the wing and totally ineffectual in attack. Passing was awry all night and it caused Chelsea problems. Trudged off injured in the dying embers – fans will be hoping it’s not too serious.
Lesley Ugochukwu – 5/10
Not afraid to get stuck in – perhaps excessively so at points – but there were a few too many sloppy moments on the whole where he was found stuck in possession and it led directly to a chance for the visitors.
Moises Caicedo – 6/10
Serenaded with boos by the travelling faithful, it was always likely to be an odd occasion for the Ecuadorian. Prone to a heavy touch which led to some rough moments, but they were mostly outweighed particularly by some nice incisive passing. Much better showing than his successor Carlos Baleba.
Mykhailo Mudryk – 6/10 (67)
With a bit more nous and game intelligence he could have easily won a penalty in the closing stages of the first period. Really lively, direct display but too often isolated with little support to speak of. His ambition to drive towards goal should be encouraged, rather than the nervous tendency to cut in.
Cole Palmer – 8/10 (75)
Early days but there is a lot to like about this tidy little player. He was sharp in his movement and light on his feet, with bundles of technical ability and the eye for a pass – as his snap decision assist demonstrated. Took a bit of a clobbering from Brighton’s bruisers – hacking him down seemed as good a strategy as any, but that didn’t stop him doing the damage and running the show. Brilliant.
Ian Maatsen – 7/10 (75)
On the margins of proceedings a little, but he worked extremely hard in a mostly unfamiliar role further forward on the right side. Bundles of energy and tenacious in the tackle.
Nicolas Jackson – 7/10 (87)
It is fair to say Senegalese has been getting stick from all angles. This was generally a performance of someone low on confidence but not afraid to get their elbows out and be persistent. Getting on the scoresheet is exactly why the Blues invested in him and why Pochettino has given him a clear vote of confidence. When the moment came, he didn’t falter. Unlucky to see a second ruled out for a suspect offside, but heartwarming that he took the disappointment in his stride and gave a young fan a high-five.
Raheem Sterling – 5/10 (67)
Effectively a non entity in his short time on the pitch and spurned a decent chance to play in fellow sub Conor Gallagher.
Enzo Fernandez – 6/10 (75)
Stretched the play upon his introduction and generally mucked in to see out the win.
Conor Gallagher – 6/10 (75)
Brought some energy to the fray late on with Chelsea locking down their slender lead.
Armando Broja – N/A (87)
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