Willian, Forward: 7.5 – 1.0 = 6.5
Most of the offence Chelsea had throughout the game came through Willian. Depending on your opinion (some would say agenda), that either has you slumping over your desk in shame and despair or knowingly nodding your head in long-standing agreement.
Now if only he could improve his finishing.
The movement of the wing backs high up the pitch and the limited ability of the midfielders to advance the play through midfield drew Willian into deep positions to progress the ball into Valencia’s half. He was Chelsea’s best player for connecting the defence with the offence, which is a bit of problem – or at least a burden – if he also taking a lead role on the offence.
At times his energy levels seemed to be flagging. He was the oldest player on the pitch, just as he was 72 hours earlier against Wolves. Lampard will have to monitor rest, recovery and rotation for his players at both ends of the age spectrum.
All that said, his demeanor and behaviour around Ross Barkley’s penalty kick costs him a point. After the game Frank Lampard said Ross Barkley is the penalty taker. If that’s true, Willian had no business being there. If not, once it became clear that Barkley was taking it, Willian still should have cleared out. He absolutely should not have bent down and adjusted his socks right in front of Barkley. Willian may have iced his teammate more effectively than Cilessen could have hoped to.
Keep an eye on Willian’s Instagram to see if he puts any emojis over Barkley’s face in pictures from the game.
Mason Mount, Forward: N/A; Pedro, Forward: 6.5
After five games, Chelsea are apparently completely dependent on a 20-year old who only has those five games for top-flight experience.
Mount’s injury seemed to deflate the morale of the team as well as the fans. Tactically, it also removed Chelsea’s ability to create, find and exploit space, especially on the left side of offence. Pedro came on for Mount and frequently shifted over to the, putting him right on top of Willian who, in turn, was usually too close to Cesar Azpilicueta. This left Marcos Alonso as the only player available on the left side – good for crosses, but completely inadequate in terms of options for switching the play or offering up one-two’s.
Pedro was often in a similar position as Willian, having to move into suboptimal positions to get the ball and then having too much to do on the other side of it. A forward like him needs service to initiate his attacks, and he was not able to get it.
But the Blues also need a forward who can create space for himself and others. It seems Mount is already indispensable in that role. Heart-warming, but worrisome.
Tammy Abraham, Striker: 7
Tammy Abraham did what he could with what he received, but for the reasons discussed above that was pretty limited. Azpilcueta and Alonso sent in decent crosses, but Valencia was playing a standard Champions League away defence, and it stifled most of Abraham’s shooting lanes.
The Blues have five days off until their next match, which should be sufficient for Abraham to recover from two games in three days. But he was a surprise in the starting XI, and at some point he will need time off.