Player Ratings: Chelsea 1-0 Leeds United | Premier League
Chelsea held on to a much-needed 1-0 win against Leeds United on Saturday afternoon in west London to help alleviate the pressure on Graham Potter.
A second half Wesley Fofana header was enough for Chelsea to get past Leeds United at Stamford Bridge to deliver their first league win in six matches.
Chelsea were in desperate need of a result, and started the game well, dominating the early phases in a slightly tweaked 3-4-3 formation.
Joao Felix and Wesley Fofana mistimed early headed efforts, before Kai Havertz spurned the first real opportunity of the match. Chelsea broke quickly, with Raheem Sterling slipping in Havertz, who had a lot of time to run at Illan Meslier, who did well to save Havertz’ dinked effort, although the German will feel he should have done better.
Joao Felix was the next player to go close for the Blues, with his side-footed volley slamming off the crossbar after Enzo Fernandez and Sterling’s good work created an opening for the loanee.
Despite Chelsea creating more chances, Leeds grew into the contest towards the end of the first half and looked dangerous on the counter, with a Jack Harrison’s free kick going closest for the visitors.
The first half ended in a finely poised manner, much to the discontent of Chelsea fans who booed their side off the pitch.
The blues started the second half in a similar fashion to the first, and tested Leeds inside a minute with Sterling poking over inside the box. However, Chelsea finally took the lead soon after, courtesy of Wesley Fofana’s 53rd minute header. Chilwell whipped in a promising corner from the left hand side, with Wesley Fofana leaping highest, directing his header past Meslier to give his side a well deserved lead at Stamford Bridge.
Leeds pushed for an equaliser and came close on a few occasions with a nervy atmosphere engulfing Stamford Bridge. Goalkeeper Meslier’s effort right at the death came closest for the visitors, with Kepa Arrizabalaga clinging on to seal Chelsea’s first Premier League win in six matches.
Here is how Absolute Chelsea rated the players’ performance in the victory against Leeds on Saturday.
Kepa Arrizabalaga – 6.5/10
Solid performance from Kepa. Kept Leeds out when they were pressing for an equaliser, although did not have to make any particularly tough saves. However, it was naturally a nervy atmosphere towards the end and Kepa handled everything that was thrown at him with composure.
Wesley Fofana- 8/10
Fofana put in a standout display in his first start since picking up a serious injury in October. Fofana was a constant threat from set pieces, which has been sorely lacking from this Chelsea side in recent weeks. Fofana took his goal well, displaying a fantastic leap to get above his man and direct a difficult header beyond the stranded Meslier. Comfortable in possession, Fofana dealt well with Leeds down his side, despite a first half booking. Fofana never looked flustered, which is testament to his performance coming with so few minutes in recent times.
Kalidou Koulibaly – 6/10
The old head in Chelsea’s three-man defence, Kalidou Koulibaly did a good job of organising his young charges in the absence of Thiago Silva. There were one or two customary rocky moments in the first half where Leeds nearly got past him, but Koulibaly rallied well and managed the game effectively, using all of his experience to deal with Leeds’ boisterous attackers.
Benoit Badiashile – 6/10
Benoit Badiashile looked comfortable in the left centre back position, and was able to use his physicality and speed to deal with everything Leeds threw at him. Badiashile is comfortable with the ball at his feet, and enjoyed using his passing range to play some raking diagonal balls over the right. Overall an assured display from the young centre back.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek- 6/10 (84)
Loftus-Cheek was not quite as effective as his more natural wing-back partner Chilwell, however it was still a solid performance for Chelsea’s utility man filling in for Reece James. Loftus-Cheek worked well with Sterling down Chelsea’s right to fashion a few openings, and was rarely troubled defensively.
Mateo Kovacic – 6.5/10 (75)
Captain for the day in the absence of the regular stalwarts, Mateo Kovacic put in a busy display for his side in the centre of midfield. Kovacic was his usual lively self, buzzing about around the pitch, playing neat passes and making useful defensive interventions too. Still lacking those eye catching moments but an important shift from the stand in skipper. Seemingly the most assured partnership anyone has had with Enzo Fernandez to date.
Enzo Fernandez – 6.5/10 (84)
One of his better performances in a blue shirt. Enzo was able to dictate the tempo of the match much more than in previous weeks, and was busy in the tackle along with his partner Kovacic who won the midfield battle against Leeds on the day. Enzo will look to build on this display, as he gradually picks up the pace of the league and combines it with his obvious technical abilities.
Ben Chilwell – 7.5/10
Tasked with providing width down the left hand side in a wing-back berth, Ben Chiwell offered a lot more threat from wide areas than Chelsea have had in recent weeks. Chilwell regularly made dangerous runs into the box and caused plenty of issues for Leeds with his teammates regularly looking to pick him out with diagonal balls. Chilwell also took some dangerous set pieces, and whipped in a lovely corner for Fofana’s opener. A good performance from Chilwell, but like his teammates, still slightly lacking a cutting edge in the box, and spurned a good opening in the first half.
Raheem Sterling – 6.5/10 (68)
A solid performance from Sterling who is still trying to build back into some form after a long injury lay-off. Sterling was involved in a lot of Chelsea’s promising attacking moments in the first half, teeing up Havertz and Felix, and arguably should have had two assists from those openings. Sterling is still missing that clinical edge, sending his two best efforts over the bar. A lively display from Sterling, who was sacrificed as Potter tried to hold onto the win.
Joao Felix – 6/10 (68)
Unlucky to hit the bar from his sumptuous effort in the first half, if that had gone in, we all would be waxing lyrical about Felix’s performance. Felix was involved in some of Chelsea’s promising moves in the first half, but like Sterling was sacrificed in the second as his side looked to hang onto a vital win.
Kai Havertz – 6/10
Havertz put in a hard working display, but struggled to provide any real spark in front of goal. Spurned a good opening in the first half which a more confident player likely would have buried. However, Havertz worked hard for the team and put in an important shift, but is still lacking the cutting edge required to play as a number nine.
Conor Gallagher – 5/10 (68)
Offered a threat on the counter for Chelsea as Leeds pushed for an equaliser. Was his usual tigerish self in the middle, and helped his side hang on for the win.
Denis Zakaria – 5/10 (68)
Offered a more physical presence in midfield after his arrival. Helped his side see out the game comfortably in the end.
Carney Chukwuemeka – 5/10 (75)
Offered a threat on the counter, and one half chance snuffed out where he maybe could have done better, nevertheless some useful minutes in the tank for the young Englishman in a tense finale to the match.
Noni Madueke – (84) N/A
Trevoh Chalobah – N/A (84)