It was a night to remember for Chelsea as they progressed to the fourth round of the EFL Cup. A solitary Nicholas Jackson goal was enough to see off Brighton & Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge. It was a welcome result for Mauricio Pochettino after consecutive losses at Stamford Bridge. There were quite a few standout players for the Blues who showed Pochettino why they deserve more minutes for the blues. Here are three of them.
1. Marc Cucurella of Chelsea
The Spanish left-back had perhaps the most disappointing season at CFC last term. Cucurella could not make any mark under any of the four managers. There were reports about him pushing for a move in January that came out just days before the third-round clash with his form club Brighton.
Despite playing out of position at right-back, Cucurella produced a brilliant performance for Chelsea. He was able to silence one of the premier league’s standout wingers Kaoru Mitoma.
When Chels‘ visited Brighton last season, Mitoma gave Cucurella a horrid time. It was a vindicative performance for the former Brighton left-back. He was able to link up well with Ian Maatsen and Cole Palmer to provide support.
The Spaniard was fired up throughout and was very vocal about unfair decisions from the referee against Chelsea. It was an all-out display from him that fans watching live at the stadium and around the world enjoyed.
2. Ben Chilwell
Chelsea’s vice-captain leading the team yesterday in the absence of Reece James was another player under criticism from fans. It was more towards Pochettino for deploying him as a winger instead of playing him as a left-back. On Wednesday night, Chilwell started at left-back and showed his manager why fans want that. It was not a standout performance from him, but he was able to thwart danger from Brighton through the right wing.
The lack of understanding with Mykhailo Mudryk ahead of him was evident. But it will increase as they play together more. Like Cucurella, Chilwell was also very vocal and showed a lot of passion for the badge. The injury he suffered at the end of the match was unfortunate. Fans will need to wait to know the extent of it.
3. Cole Palmer
It was the English U-21 International first start for the west London side after arriving from Manchester City days before the transfer window closed. He deployed just behind striker Jackson. It was another decision fans wanted to see and they weren’t disappointed at all.
The 2023 UEFA European Under-21 Champion showed his class with the performance. His awareness and run with the ball were good. But the standout moment was the perfect pause he took before providing the ball for Jackson which resulted in the goal. Unfair refereeing took away another deserving assist later in the match. He is another youngster who will only improve once given a run in the team in their preferred position.