Chelsea swiftly returned to winning ways on Wednesday as they cruised to a 3-1 win over Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium
The Blues dominated the proceedings from the word go, with Eden Hazard, Pedro and Willian running the show up front. Unsurprisingly, they broke the deadlock midway through the first half as two of the attacking triad combined, with Hazard’s sleek flick finding Willian, who put Tiemoue Bakayoko through on goal.
The Frenchman still had some work to do, but he produced a neat finish to score past an onrushing Jonas Lossl. The lead was then doubled two minutes before half-time as Willian scored his second Premier League goal of the season, heading in Marcos Alonso’s cross with relative ease.
The Brazilian then turned provider once again in the early stages of the second half, laying off Alonso’s cross towards an unmarked Pedro, who passed the ball into the top corner. But, the hosts had the final say in the match, grabbing the consolation goal through Laurent Depoitre in the dying moments.
Full-time: Huddersfield 1-3 Chelsea 🔥
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 12, 2017
The win took Chelsea level on points with second placed Manchester United, who have a game in hand, and four clear in third. Following their return to winning ways, The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Antonio Conte’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 7/10
A quiet night for Courtois, who was barely called into action against the Terriers. It wasn’t until the hour mark when the Belgian finally had something of note to do as he reacted superbly to deny Tom Ince. He would have been left frustrated to lose his clean sheet late into the game, but he could have done little to stop Depoitre’s powerful header.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 7/10
Donning the armband in the absence of Gary Cahill, Azpilicueta was a true leader on the pitch, guiding Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger while shouting instructions all the time to keep things organised at the back. He was composed on the ball as well, playing out well from the back.
Andreas Christensen: 7/10
Christensen only misplaced 2 passes tonight for Chelsea…
98% passing accuracy.
He is also the only defender in the Premier League now who has an above average of 94% passing accuracy…
Simply class. 🇩🇰 pic.twitter.com/KMqcDZKZiS
— Uber Chelsea FC 🏆 (@UberCheIseaFC) December 12, 2017
The young Dane just continues to grow into the ball-playing role at the heart of the back-three. After a slightly underwhelming outing at West Ham, Christensen was in his elements once again, showing a lot of composure, especially while playing out balls from the back. There are still some chinks in his armour, but he is only taking steps in the right direction.
Antonio Rudiger: 7/10
Preferred in place of Cahill on the night, Rudiger produced one of his better performances in a Chelsea shirt, although he was tested very little. Whenever he was needed though, the German defended astutely while also using his mobility to good effect to initiate moves from his side of the defence.
Victor Moses: 7/10
Moses is slowly clawing his way back to top form after a month on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury, and Davide Zappacosta could soon have some cause for concern. On Tuesday, the Nigerian’s flank was the less busy of the two.
But, he was still quite the threat on the right side, pouring in several crosses while also being diligent in his defensive duties. A fine way to celebrate his 27th birthday.
N’Golo Kante: 7/10
Kante had an easy night on Tuesday, with Chelsea dominating proceedings for much of the game. His tireless running wasn’t all that needed, with his positioning enough to render the Huddersfield attack ineffective.
While on the ball, the Frenchman dictated the tempo of the game, enabling Bakayoko to move forward while also spraying some useful passes. He was taken off with 20 minutes to go as well, and the player would have definitely appreciated the rest he received as a result.
Tiemoue Bakayoko: 7.5/10
🔵🔵 Tiemoué Bakayoko (23) vs Huddersfield:
3 shots; 1 on target
2/3 aerial duels
Tiemoué is answering Bak. pic.twitter.com/tGDiM3ZwmP
— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) December 12, 2017
A far improved performance by the much maligned Frenchman, after two disastrous outings over the last week. Bakayoko opened the scoring for his side, but that wasn’t the only way he impacted the game.
The player made more defensive actions than any Chelsea player, while his pass accuracy of 94 per cent was quite impressive, which included five successful long balls. Just the performance he needed to build his confidence back up, and start proving that he can be an asset for Conte.
Marcos Alonso: 8/10
Another player who has had several lulls this season, Alonso looked quite rejuvenated on the left flank. The Spaniard was heavily involved going forward, providing the assist to Willian before also laying in the cross that eventually led to Pedro’s goal. Onwards and upwards from here for the player.
Handed a rare start on the night, Pedro made merry on account of his side’s clear superiority on the night. His tireless pressing helped keep Chelsea on the front foot at all times, and the Spaniard also got on to the score sheet – and in fine fashion – to cap off a strong performance.
Eden Hazard: 9/10
Eden Hazard game by numbers:
8 duels won
5 times fouled
4 dribbles completed
4 big chances created
2 times robbed off an assist
— Mod (@HazardChaos) December 12, 2017
He may not have had any goals to show for his efforts on the night, but Hazard was the best player on the pitch at the John Smith’s Stadium on Tuesday. A bagful of tricks against a nervy Huddersfield defence, the winger clearly had a lot of fun, with one such trick setting up Bakayoko’s goal.
His link up with Willian, in particular, was delightful, with his movement creating acres and acres of space that brought Bakayoko and Kante into the final third more often. Such outings reaffirm the opinion that Hazard indeed is one of the best, albeit slightly inconsistent at times, and frustratingly so.
Another player who has found first-team minutes in short supply this season, Willian grabbed a rare opportunity with both hands on Tuesday. Deft touches, pacy movements and brilliant link up play was the name of the game for the player as he looked to be playing at his best.
3 – Willian has had a hand in three goals in a single Premier League game for the first time ever (1 goal, 2 assists). Magic. pic.twitter.com/aFh3ABrsiw
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 12, 2017
To cap off a wonderful performance, the player made a direct contribution in each of Chelsea’s goals, and in fine fashion. A fantastic option for Conte, when the Brazilian plays at this level.
Michy Batshuayi: 6/10
The Belgian would have been left utterly disappointed to have not been handed the start in Morata’s absence. When he did eventually come on to the pitch, Batshuayi did not provide any evidence as to why he needs to start more often. He looks bereft of confidence currently, and a loan could do him a world of good.
Danny Drinkwater: 6/10
On for the final quarter of an hour, Drinkwater helped give Kante some rest while also using the chance to get some rhythm. He would now be hoping to put his fitness troubles well behind him.
Ethan Ampadu: N/A
The highly rated Ampadu replaced Christensen for the final ten minutes of the game. In what was his Premier League debut, the teenager showed composure beyond his years. One for the future.