Chelsea secured a 3-0 win over Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on Saturday despite having to dig in for a large part of the game — and there are several talking points from the victory.
Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea’s long-awaited clinical finisher
It is safe to say that the 28-year-old deserved a lot more from his teammates in terms of service. He did not get many chances, and he still netted twice.
Those two goals came from his only two shots throughout the game, mind you.
There will be times when he will be in a similarly difficult situation, but Thomas Tuchel and the Chelsea players now know they have an elite No.9 to rely on.
Saul Niguez’s poor Chelsea debut
To say that the on-loan Atletico Madrid had an underwhelming game would be an understatement. He was pretty much invisible apart from when he misplaced his passes and making fouls.
He failed to win any of his seven ground duels in the first half and was unsurprisingly taken off at half-time.
It was a debut, so the lack of time to adapt and perhaps nervousness might have played a big part. For some, it did not justify his lack of effort off the ball, though.
Tuchel previously spoke about how he saw Saul as a new “strategic” playmaker at Chelsea, similar to Jorginho, but unfortunately, his performance suggests he might be not very comfortable with the holding-midfield role.
It was not much better in the second half
The introduction of Jorginho in the second half helped ease the pressure, although they still allowed Dean Smith’s men more opportunities than what Tuchel would have liked.
To put it into perspective, Villa had 11 shots (four on target) in the first half and still registered seven shots in the last 45 minutes, although only two were on target.
Chelsea still ended up keeping another clean sheet, but this time, it is not because they managed to stop the limit the opponents from creating goalscoring opportunities, but rather individual qualities.
Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva saved the day
Just as Lukaku was very reliable in the final third, Mendy and Silva were as dependable at the other end of the pitch.
Silva made six clearances, one interception, one tackle and blocked four shots in the game.
Mendy also had a very busy day, having made six saves, all from inside the box, and was arguably Chelsea’s best performer alongside Lukaku.
Callum Hudson-Odoi struggled in wing-back role
Several Chelsea fans on Twitter expressed their disappointment over Tuchel’s decision to start the 20-year-old as a right wing-back before the game.
They had a point, and Hudson-Odoi’s performance in the game clearly demonstrated it.
While Hudson-Odoi’s attacking threat practically forced Villa left wing-back Matt Target to stay very deep for the majority of the game, it still put a lot of pressure on Trevoh Chalobah defensively.
Chalobah often ended up having to deal with Ollie Watkins, arguably one of the best strikers in the league, in one-on-one situations and it was clearly a difficult task for the young defender.
Fortunately for Chelsea, Mendy and Silva were on top of their game and provided the necessary support to stop Watkins who had six shot attempts (four blocked) in the game.