Chelsea welcomed Preston North End to Stamford Bridge for the third round of the FA Cup and gave them a thrashing. It was as easy as it should have been, which is a credit to Mauricio Pochettino and his men. The Blues limited Preston to few shots while peppering their goal all game. The west London club has now cruised to the fourth round of the FA Cup. Here is how the players performed:
Dorde Petrovic: 7/10
Petrovic was excellent when called upon. He saved all the shots he faced and was superb in his distribution. He has been reliable between the sticks since he came into the team and his decision not to unnecessarily complicate things has been a plus.
Alfie Gilchrist: 7.5/10
Gilchrist gets extra credit for coming into the side on his debut and playing out of position at right back. It should be noted that while it's against Preston, it's still a competitive game and the youngster looked comfortable in a Chelsea shirt. He did well the few times he was called upon, His distribution was great and he won all his duels.
Axel Disasi: 7.5/10
Disasi combined well with his centerback partner and provided balance in the back line. His defending wasn't great, but his distribution was excellent. He made nine passes into the final third, with only Enzo Fernandez completing more. His role in buildup and ball retention was crucial. He even created two chances, which is a lot for a centerback. He was more than solid.
Levi Colwill: 8/10
The Blues captain on the night was imperious. His defending was good, winning 11/13 duels and an outrageous 8/9 aerial duels. His passing was poor though, completing only 85% of his passes. He lost possession of the ball 13 times, which for a centerback on a possession-based team, is too much.
Malo Gusto: 7/10
Gusto was poor in his duels but great with his passing. He was important to Chelsea's buildup and chance creation. He has been very good since coming back into the side. He now leads all Blues for assists this season. His cross to Broja for the home side's opening goal was a thing of beauty.
Enzo Fernandez: 8.5/10
Fernandez was excellent in attack, defense, and buildup. A particular play comes to mind where he plays a perfect long ball over the top to Raheem Sterling, putting it perfectly into the path of the former Manchester City winger. Fernandez then starts his run and gets into the box in time to get on the end of Sterling's cutback. The Argentine World Cup winner also helped relieve pressure. He topped off a top performance with a goal.
Moises Caicedo: 8/10
Caicedo had an excellent game, granted it was against a second-division side. He balanced the midfield superbly, prioritizing ball retention whereas Fernandez focused on ball progression. He won all five of his duels except one.
Mykhailo Mudryk: 6.5
Mudryk's dribbling was unsurprisingly poor, even though he would have been expected to do better considering the opposition. He won some fouls, creating some set piece-taking opportunities. He did create a big chance, despite a generally underwhelming performance.
Cole Palmer: 7/10
Palmer made the fantastic cross to assist Thiago Silva for the Blues second goal. His distribution and work rate were very good. He is turning into the goal and assist machine that he was always meant to be.
Raheem Sterling: 10/10
Sterling was perfection. His decision making was top of the line, as he created three big chances out of the seven the team created against Preston. His dribbling could have been better, but he was a thorn in Ryan Lowe's side and he troubled the away side all game. He did not only contribute off the ball and in chance creation, but he also contributed in goal production, leaving with a goal and assist. His free kick goal was just heavenly.
Armando Broja: 6.5
Broja was combative. He was not clinical but he did well to get a goal off a glancing header from Gusto's sumptuous cross. He didn't win many of his duels despite being strong and tall, which is something he was to work on.
Thiago Silva (61'): 7/10
Silva was great when he came on. He did everything right. His towering header for Chelsea's second goal was fantastic. He's one of the Blues' best headers of the ball despite being only six feet flat.
Noni Madueke (61'): 6/10
Madueke was certainly busy. He got into good goal-scoring positions but couldn't convert any of the chances he got. His dribbling was surprisingly poor.
Conor Gallagher (76'): 7/10
His dribbling was great and his distribution was excellent. He was good at retaining the ball, which was impressive considering he also created three chances.
Deivid Washington (76'): 6/10
Washington didn't play for long but his positioning was good enough to get him on the end of a big chance, though he missed.
Michael Golding (89'): 6/10
Despite only having six touches of the ball and attempting only three passes, the youngster would not forget this day and would appreciate Pochettino for this invaluable debut.
Mauricio Pochettino: 7.5/10
You could say Pochettino selected the right lineup. Chelsea played very well, and the Argentine did well to take out key players when the game was won. He did not make any glaringly alarming decisions, though Sterling probably shouldn't have stayed on. The Blues not only kept the ball well, but they did a lot of valuable things with it. Pochettino's men also did well to limit Preston to a few non-threatening shots.