3. Convincing performance
Chelsea has made a habit of winning uncomfortable matches over the last few seasons. An Antonio Rudiger own goal ensured Blues fans would be on the edge of their seats until the final whistle against Sheffield United and a reserved approach to the second half against Spurs provided the same result. Surprisingly enough though, the Carabao Cup clash against Barnsley in September was one of the most unconvincing performances of the campaign thus far. The 6-0 scoreline will deceive many, but make no mistake about it, the Blues were far from their best the first time these two teams went head-to-head.
The Tykes opened up the match by coming close to opening the accounts on numerous occasions inside 20 minutes. The Championship side held its own for nearly that same amount of time until a passing error saw Abraham slot home the opener for Chelsea. From the 19th minute on, the result was seemingly sealed. That being said, it was far from convincing stuff from the Blues. The home side outshot its second-tier visitors 17 to 14, with 11 shots heading toward the target compared to Barnsley’s nine. Regardless of the scoreline, that’s far too many chances for Chelsea to give the Tykes.
It’s highly unlikely that a team who has won two, drawn two and lost two of its last six could top September’s performance, even though it is at home the second time around. The venue hardly matters anymore—especially without fans in the ground—in this type of contest. Chelsea needs to limit the looks Barnsley gets throughout the entirety of the FA Cup tie. If the Blues play another sloppy match, it could set a negative tone going into the season’s most brutal stretch.
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