Ruben Loftus-Cheek went home with the match ball as his hattrick helped Chelsea to a 3-1 win over BATE Borisov in the UEFA Europa League.
It was a night of statements from the so-called fringe Chelsea squad that took the field against BATE Borisov in their third Group Stage game of the 2018-19 UEFA Europa League. Davide Zappacosta was ominous in his ways on the right side of the defence, perhaps hinting at a desire for regular minutes.
The star of the night though, was Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The midfielder has been in the news for the wrong reasons this season, with several reports citing his lack of minutes as a cause for the star to look for newer pastures come January. Maurizio Sarri started the Chelsea academy graduate for the second Europa League game in a row and he delivered more than what was expected of him.
Getting on the end of a Davide Zappacosta pull-back, the Englishman slotted it home in the first two minutes of the game to hand Chelsea the lead. Within a few minutes of the first, Loftus-Cheek added to his own tally and Chelsea’s lead, getting on the end of a Willian corner. The midfielder could have had a hattrick in the first-half itself, if not for his decision to play the ball with his head in the box.
He got his hattrick in the second half though, thanks to a soft goal, which would have surely frustrated Denis Scherbitskiy, who should have done better. BATE Borisov did get a goal back towards the end, with Aleksey Rios getting on the end of a sumptuous delivery from near the corner area in what was a brilliantly executed set-piece by Igor Stasevich.
As Chelsea stroll to another comfortable win, we take a closer look at how the individuals fared.
Kepa Arrizabalaga – 6
Couldn’t do anything about the goal towards the end. Goal aside, Kepa was assured in between the posts. Although, one can say that the Spaniard was hardly tested, with just one solitary save to his name throughout the ninety. Another comfortable outing.
Davide Zappacosta – 8
Perhaps the best performance from Zappacosta in a Chelsea shirt. The first half was all Zappacosta, even though it was Loftus-Cheek who scored a brace in the first 45 minutes. The Italian was so efficient in his attacking forays and his deliveries were a refreshing change from Cesar Azpilicueta’s, who doesn’t boast nearly the same accuracy as far as crosses are concerned.
Zappacosta should have had another assist in the first half, had Loftus-Cheek taken his chance well. The Italian fired a venomous shot towards the BATE Borisov goal in the second half, which was saved by Scherbitskiy. An outing that could see him pose an actual threat to Azpilicueta’s position on the right.
Gary Cahill – 6.5
A decent outing with not much to do as far as the defensive aspect is concerned. Would have been gutted to lose the clean sheet at the end of the game, with as many as four BATE Borisov players open in the box. Has vowed to fight for a place at Chelsea. But, his form is a fair share away from the first-choice centre-backs as at the present moment.
Andreas Christensen – 6.5
Nearly had his first goal in a Chelsea shirt but failed to clutch on to the ball with a yard or two away from the goal, after a brilliant head-on from Cahill off a Willian corner. On the defensive side, did not have much to do but was still fairly dominant in the air. However, did not do enough to warrant reconsideration of his squad status.
Emerson Palmieri – 7
Not exactly sure how to rate Emerson’s performance. The player was as attacking as first-choice Chelsea left-back Marcos Alonso. Emerson ended the game with SIX successful dribbles. But, in reality, it was a comfortable night for all the players involved. End product is still lacking though, from the full-back, which is what could be cited as the main difference between him and Marcos Alonso.
Mateo Kovacic – 7
Solid in the middle of the park, Kovacic is slowly becoming a key player under Maurizio Sarri. Had SIX successful dribbles along with a passing accuracy of 96%. Did not foray forward as much as he usually does but was more than decent whenever in the frame of things.
Cesc Fabregas – 6.5
.@cesc4official vs BATE Borisov
Most touches in a Europa League game this term – 162
Most attempted passes in a Europa League game this term – 152
Most accurate passes in a Europa League game this term – 138
Most successful final 3rd passes in a Europa League game this term – 44 pic.twitter.com/qJ4ATuxI2c
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) October 26, 2018
Sarri has been blessed by the presence of Cesc Fabregas within the squad. The Spaniard is perhaps the best alternative to Jorginho and his presence has enabled Sarri to push through his playing style in a cleaner and smoother manner. Had 138 successful passes during the game, 40 more than the next highest Mateo Kovacic, and is genuinely looking like a good squad player for Sarri.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 9
While he did get a hattrick, his overall performance was nothing special. He could have had more goals, owing to his brilliant off-the-ball movement and opportune positioning in and around the box. The Chelsea academy graduate though, did take his goals well and the hattrick will be a warning shot to Chelsea and Sarri that he warrants more game time.
The performance could worsen Chelsea’s woes in the form that other top clubs might start to take more interest in the young contract rebel.
Pedro – 6
An almost anonymous performance from Pedro, who was hard to find on the pitch, despite Chelsea being so dominant during the entire ninety. Hasn’t done himself any favours with this performance.
Olivier Giroud – 7
How Giroud managed to end the match without a goal is just oblivious to many. The Frenchman got in the right positions and his shots were on target. But, Scherbitskiy was on top of his game whenever Giroud came calling and answered his attempts with saves of equal quality, including a blinder from close range.
As far as the grand scheme of things is concerned, Sarri needs to look for reinforcements in attack, with neither striker managing to impress much this season.
Willian – 7.5
A typical Willian performance, albeit with some impressive service from set-pieces. He received one assist for his set-piece delivery but honestly he could have had a couple more had his teammates been prolific. Ran off the opposition and was constantly probing for chances at goal. An assured performance.
Victor Moses – 6
An indifferent 30 minutes or so. But, Moses would have been content with getting minutes under the belt.
Callum Hudson-Odoi – 7
Did more during his cameo than Pedro did in twice the minutes on the pitch. Ended the game with FIVE successful dribbles in just half an hour. Looks set to be inculcated into the first-team setup on a more regular basis in the near future.
N’Golo Kante – N/A
Did what he had to do in the time he was given on the pitch. Nothing spectacular.