Alvaro Morata continued to cut a frustrated figure in front of goal as Chelsea recorded a narrow win over PAOK in the UEFA Europa League.
Chelsea were lucky their profligacy in front of goal did not come back to haunt them on Thursday. A brilliant play from Ross Barkley saw Willian through on goal and convert the opportunity to open the scoring for the away side. But, PAOK remained in the game throughout the match, mainly due to Chelsea’s inability to put the ball into the back of the net.
We take a closer look at how the Chelsea players fared on an individual level.
Kepa Arrizabalaga – 6/10
The Spaniard was one of the few players to retain their place in the starting lineup. While Kepa was not put to the test, he had one nervy moment as his not-so-clean take of a lofted ball inside the box could have caused danger on another day. A quiet outing nonetheless.
Davide Zappacosta – 6/10
Zappacosta was given a chance to impress. But, it would be an overstatement to say he did so. The Italian was never bothered much on the defensive front and was not a particular highlight going forward. An average outing.
Antonio Rudiger – 7.5/10
There were questions raised by many, including us when we saw Maurizio Sarri give Antonio Rudiger the free reign to venture forward instead of David Luiz, who has always been recognised as the more accomplished one as far as on-the-ball ability is concerned.
But, on Thursday, Rudiger continued to prove his doubters wrong, spraying passes with ease and even attempting some laudable through balls, a couple of which found their way as well. Dominant in the air as well. Hitting all the right notes under Sarri.
Andreas Christensen – 7/10
If Rudiger was showing off his passing range and aerial ability, Christensen would have surely given Maurizio Sarri something to think about, with some accomplished tackling. Had the joint-highest number of tackles (4) on the night, showing that, despite his tall built, he can get down quick and easy to snuff out the danger.
Marcos Alonso – 6.5/10
Always on the lookout for ways to get forward and be that additional man in attack, Marcos Alonso did find joy continuously on the left. But, he was caught out on a couple of occasions, which could have culminated into a dangerous proposition for Chelsea.
N’Golo Kante – 6/10
A very quiet display from the World Cup winner. Kante did not put a foot wrong against PAOK on Thursday. But, he was uncharacteristically silent in midfield, missing his usual energy and presence. Perhaps could have done with a bit of rest.
Jorginho – 6/10
If Kante was quiet, Jorginho was almost non-existent for most parts. The Italian did keep things ticking in midfield but was hardly a threat with his forward passing and did not make much of a foray into the final third.
Ross Barkley – 9/10
The best player on the pitch for Chelsea, Ross Barkley was perhaps given the license to venture forward by Maurizio Sarri. Barkley seemed to be playing the number 10 role almost, despite starting in a three-man midfield. His brilliant ball was responsible for Chelsea’s winner and Barkley continued to torment PAOK with his runs past the last defender on most occasions.
Pedro – 8/10
The Spaniard could have had a couple of assists on Thursday if not for the lack of finishing from compatriot Alvaro Morata. Pedro also did the dirty work to make sure his flank was well covered, with 4 tackles to his name. Had more dribbles to his name (5) than the entire PAOK starting eleven combined (4).
Alvaro Morata – 4/10
The only Chelsea player to be given a sub-par rating from us for the Thursday fixture. Morata could have had a hattrick if not for his failure to find the back of the net. The Spaniard was showered with chance after chance. But, he let his teammates and himself down.
It is not like Alvaro Morata is lacking in effort. The former Real Madrid frontman was always looking to create space for himself to run into and his movement off-the-ball was top notch. But, we cannot expect such level of profligacy at this level, especially with the Spaniard fighting to win back his recently lost status as the first-choice striker at Chelsea.
Lacks confidence and this showing will not do him any good.
Willian – 8.5/10
Honestly, the wingers did all they can to make sure Chelsea did not pay the price for Morata’s lack of cutting edge in front of goal. Willian took his goal well and was almost always a nuisance, trying all sorts of tricks, including a ball from the outside of his boot that almost gave him an assist. A near-perfect outing from the Brazilian.
Cesc Fabregas – 6/10
Came in replacing Jorginho, at a time when Chelsea were being pushed back a bit by PAOK as the home side searched for a shock equalizer. Did go about his duties well but had no particular highlight.
Cesar Azpilicueta – 6/10
Same as Fabregas. Did not put a foot wrong in what was a rare appearance on the left side of the defence for the Spaniard.
Olivier Giroud – N/A
Came on for Morata with less than 10 minutes to go and did not have enough time to showcase his skills, especially with Chelsea defending a narrow 1-0 lead.