Olivier Giroud made a point, while the midfield quartet was on song, as Chelsea beat Tottenham 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Chelsea thoroughly dominated the first half and got off to the best possible start, as Olivier Giroud put them ahead with a thunderbolt of a strike. The Blues continued to pose a great deal of threat for the remainder of the game and doubled their advantage early in the second half through another powerful strike, this time by Marcos Alonso.
Tottenham ought to have been down to ten men midway through the second half, with Giovani Lo Celso inexplicably going unpunished for a stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta. Spurs then scored a consolidation goal, as Antonio Rudiger bundled the ball into his own net after a heavy deflection. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Frank Lampard’s men.
Willy Caballero: 7/10
Caballero has come in for quite some criticism, since replacing Kepa Arrizabalaga. On Saturday, however, the Chelsea goalkeeper was on song, making a top class save early on while appearing to be unfazed when dealing with the ball in aerial situations.
Could not have done anything to stop Antonio Rudiger from netting the late own goal. A step in the right direction, though, and Kepa is unlikely to be back soon, if Caballero continues in this vein of form.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 7/10
With Lampard using a 3-4-2-1 formation, Azpilicueta was a part of the back three and the Chelsea captain was largely excellent. Azpilicueta struggled to begin with, with the pace of Steven Bergwijn posing some problems. However, the Spaniard was nearly faultless after the early hiccups, barely giving an inch to the Tottenham attack.
Andreas Christensen: 7/10
Deemed fit enough to start, Christensen was stationed in the middle of the back three and had the responsibility of marshalling the defence. The Dane did so with elan, reading the game expertly and playing with a lot of confidence. Starting to showcase the consistency to go with his undoubted talent, Christensen is key to Chelsea’s defensive improvements.
Antonio Rudiger: 7/10
The mainstay in the Chelsea defence was only marginally the weakest of the three Chelsea centre-backs, but also the unluckiest. The German started the game horribly, giving the ball away cheaply, but apart from that, he was flawless, till the ball deflected off him late on. Nevertheless, a solid showing.
Reece James: 6/10
A rare game in which James did not quite make an impression. The young defender was not as involved as Marcos Alonso on the opposite flank. When he did get a sight, his end product was not consistent. Defensively, though, the Englishman was solid, keeping a check on Ben Davies’s output efficiently.
Along with Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho controlled the midfield battle completely, shutting off Tottenham for large parts of the game. The Italian international was excellent in the defensive phase, completing 12 recoveries and 3 interceptions while also winning 10 duels.
Kept things simple with the ball at his feet for the most part, but was also extravagant when needed, as he showed in the build-up to the first goal of the game. A first-time pass to Olivier Giroud, reminiscent of the one he played to Tammy Abraham against Watford, was perfectly timed and helped slice open the Tottenham defence. Top class.
Mateo Kovacic: 9/10
Mateo Kovačić completed every single take-on he attempted, completed 95% of his passes, completed the most passes, and made more recoveries than any other play on the pitch vs. Spurs.
What a player. What a display. 👏 pic.twitter.com/lsLiJEbPnr
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 22, 2020
Much like Jorginho, Kovacic was simply in a league of his own in the middle of the park. Not only did Kovacic complete the most passes in the game, he did so at a staggering success rate of 95 percent. The Croat also made an astounding 15 recoveries, more than any other player, while completing each of his take-ons in addition to creating a couple of chances. Simply put, a complete midfield showing.
Marcos Alonso: 8/10
Back in the side for a Premier League game for the first time since the reverse fixture, Alonso was in fine touch. Starting in his preferred left wing-back role, the Spaniard played without inhibitions, which was evident in the way he carried himself. The finish for his goal was simply outstanding and he could have had another world-class strike on another day. Solid effort.
Mason Mount: 9/10
Lampard’s tactics were to overload the central areas and Mount helped do that effectively. However he also managed to stretch the Tottenham defence when required, which was especially apparent in the build-up to the second goal before he passed the ball to Ross Barkley. Having said that, his biggest impact came off the ball, as he harried the opposition constantly. Mightily crucial.
Ross Barkley: 9/10
A surprise inclusion, Barkley produced one of his best ever performances in a Chelsea shirt. Used a bit higher up the pitch, the Englishman turned the clock way back to his Everton heydays, in what was an all-action display. Involved in both the goals and bar the odd sloppy moment, Barkley was on song and never let the energy levels drop. Needs to build on this.
Olivier Giroud: 8/10
Making only his third Premier League start of the season, Giroud looked like a man on a mission. Right from the get-go, his incredible hold-up play helped bring his fellow Chelsea teammates into the game.
Quite simply the perfect target man on the day, the finish for his goal was outstanding to say the least. Giroud should now well and truly be ahead of Michy Batshuayi in the pecking order. A decent alternative to Tammy Abraham, when the Englishman is unavailable or rotated.
Tammy Abraham: 6/10
With Chelsea in control, Lampard gave Abraham the last 20 minutes to build his sharpness. Almost gave a scare as soon as he came on after smashing into the upright. Helped see the game out post that incident.
On for the final 15 minutes, Willian kept things simple and ensured there were no late hiccups.