Well, that was, uh, not bad. Chelsea beat Everton by two goals to one and progressed to the quarter finals of the Carabao Cup. Both teams had their chances, with Everton hitting the woodwork on one occasion and Chelsea squandering chances of their own. The much maligned Chelsea defence held Everton at bay for most of the game, until they didn’t. All that and more, in our talking points.
#1 The Kids Are Alright
This game allowed Antonio Conte the opportunity to rest some of his first-team stars and consequently, a heavily rotated Chelsea side took to the field against Everton. It was a big day for Ethan Ampadu, who started in midfield and completed the entire 90 minutes, all at the age of 17. His inexperience showed a few times, but he was an assured presence during the course of the game. Kenedy, Musonda and Christensen were also handed starts and except Musonda, who was replaced by Pedro in the 70th minute, each of them finished the game. Kenedy had a decent outing, as did Christensen, up until the final minute of the match when he made a mistake and the entire defence collapsed like a house of cards.
#2 Staying Hydrated
Danny Drinkwater is fit! Chelsea’s summer signing from Leicester finally made an appearance in blue when he started in midfield against Everton. It was clear to see, he was struggling for match sharpness, having last played a competitive game in May. But he did what Conte expected from him, namely recycle possession and keep it simple in the middle of the park. He also had time to launch a few accurate long passes, a-la David Luiz. A few more games and he should be much sharper. A midfield three of Kante, Bakayoko and Drinkwater might just be the way forward.
#3 And We All Fall Down
With Chelsea 2-0 up and the game almost over, the defence decided to do one final rendition of their greatest hits. Rudiger lost an aerial duel, and Niasse advanced with the ball still bouncing. Christensen tried to boot it away, but missed his kick. Rudiger, hoping to cover for his teammate, rushed in for a block but instead, directed the ball into the path of Calvert-Lewin. A switch from his right foot to his left, was all it took for the Everton youngster to bamboozle Cahill and send him tumbling towards Caballero. The ‘keeper, unsighted and with his own defender falling on him, had no hope in hell. No clean sheet.
#4 Zippy Zappacosta
The Italian wingback was lively and always looking to attack down his flank. He put in some good crosses and an effort of his own hit the side netting. He seemed to be having fun toying with Everton, pulling a variety of tricks and flicks at will. With Victor Moses out, Conte ought to show a bit more faith in Zappacosta for the coming games, rather than move Azpilicueta all around the backline.
#5 Capable Caballero
Caballero had a nervy moment when he passed the ball directly to an Everton player in his own box, but he saved the resulting effort. The Argentine made several good saves to protect his goal, one of which was from point-blank range when he thwarted Rooney by making himself as wide as the Evertonian. He is certainly not a challenger to Courtois’ spot, but he is a safe pair of hands for a number two goalkeeper.
Chelsea now play Bournemouth on Saturday, hoping to start a winning streak. With the big hitters rested, the Cherries might be in for a torrid time if the real Chelsea does turn up.