Chelsea easily disposed of League Two side Morecambe, but what are some of the lessons we learnt in the FA Cup third round match?
This is a game that Chelsea was expected to win, and the team delivered. Some players put on good performances and others were playing to up their confidence. The Blues were always going to win this game comfortably, regardless of who Frank Lampard put out. He selected a strong team with two reasons in mind: restore confidence in the senior players and allow others to get crucial minutes under their belts. At the end, it worked out as Chelsea defeated Morecambe with ease. That’s not to say, however, that it was a nervy game for the first 30’.
Here are three lessons we learnt in Sunday’s FA Cup victory:
1. Creativity comes with confidence
For a large part of the first half, Chelsea was not creative enough to break down the opposition. It was almost as if the players were practicing the same moves over and over until they worked—which, of course, they didn’t. The Blues were still able to net an opener due to the gap in quality, but it took a second goal to get them to open up and start trying new things. As the score line worsened for the visitors, the Chelsea players’ confidence rose. This was exactly what some players needed.
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For the first 30’ of the game, Chelsea was not trying anything new to break the opposition. The Blues were focused on three things: Hakim Ziyech’s signature crosses, link-up play through the middle and cluster inside the box. Obviously, this was not a recipe for success over the 90′, not because the team was predictable, but because there was no real creativity in this strategy. For all three, the main focus was Timo Werner and that alone was not enough to score.
However, a different Chelsea presented itself following the second goal. The likes of Kai Havertz, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mason Mount and Ziyech made everything happen from that moment on. This can largely be attributed to confidence on and off the ball by each player. All four individuals were running into the open spaces to create chances; taking players on in the final third and trying to get open looks for teammates.
These were players lacking in confidence, but once that threshold was crossed, it was almost too easy to get open looks. This was not a difficult game by any means, but the need and urgency to try—and effectively execute something new—was present. After the players gained their confidence, the magic was inevitable.
2. Callum Hudson-Odoi is proving doubters wrong
Over the last two seasons, Hudson-Odoi has struggled to prove doubters wrong. Putting injuries aside, the winger has not performed at the levels expected consistently. At times, when given the opportunities, he failed to make an impact for the team after huge performances. However, as of late, he has shown why Chelsea gave him the contract extension he so desired.
Against Morecambe, Hudson-Odoi showcased his abilities by being creative, direct and alert. This may be looked at as a warm-up for upcoming games for the English winger. After playing over 60 minutes and terrorizing the opposition, Lampard will not have the difficult decision to choose between his wingers. Hudson-Odoi made a case for himself and it’d be surprising if he does not start against Fulham in a few days’ time.
Aside from his own personal gain and development, it is now clear what he can offer to the team. Too often the Blues are not direct enough, and Hudson-Odoi showed he can be the key to unlock that door. His link-up play all over the pitch was phenomenal; as was his ability to read the game and the open up space for others. It is safe to say he is finally ready to keep his place in the squad.
3. Some players deserve their positions in the team, others don’t
Some players deserve to play in their favorite positions, while other do not. This is the case of Billy Gilmour and Werner, respectively. Gilmour commanded the midfield without anything flashy. On the other hand, Werner struggled to get his goal and look comfortable up top.
Gilmour was as solid as ever while anchoring the midfield against Morecambe. Again, this was not a difficult game for anyone, but Gilmour really made it simple and efficient. He isn’t just good at what he does; he understands his responsibilities and plays to his own strengths. Although this was not a stand-out performance from the youngster, he did what he had to for the team and commanded the midfield. Gilmour did not provide much in the attack, but he was present in the defense and always aware of his teammates’ positioning. This made him dangerous because he was able to see where the space was, or what was the best possible pass. In that regard, Gilmour deserves to keep his position in the coming weeks.
On the other hand, Werner struggled to get the one goal to his name on the day. This is not because he did not put in the effort, nor is it because he isn’t good enough; this was simply because he is not the front-man Chelsea needs. Werner failed to capitalize on several occasions and was not productive overall. He was found drifting out wide too often when he should have been in the center of the box waiting for service from his teammates. Having Werner play as a lone striker is a mistake and it only lowers his confidence, which diminishes his overall ability to score. However, he does deserve to start, just under a different position.
What did you take away from the match? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!