Mason Mount made all the difference as Chelsea beat a ten-man Fulham side 1-0 in the London Derby at Craven Cottage on Saturday night.
Chelsea were the dominant side in the first half and came close to scoring on a few occasions with Olivier Giroud and Antonio Rudiger forced fine saves from Fulham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola while Mason Mount struck the crossbar with a thumping effort. At the other end, Ivan Cavaleiro had one good chance but sent his effort over.
On the cusp of half-time, Chelsea were handed a major boost as Fulham were reduced to ten men with Antonee Robinson getting sent off for a reckless, dangerous challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta. Frank Lampard’s men piled on the pressure in the second half with Giroud and substitute Tammy Abraham presented with decent opportunities, but Fulham held firm.
With 12 minutes left on the clock, the Blues finally broke open the deadlock who volleyed home after Ben Chilwell’s initial cross was parried into his path by Areola. Chelsea had a chance late on to add more sheen to the scoreline, but substitute Timo Werner missed a straightforward chance in stoppage time.
Nevertheless, the Blues held on for a much-needed win in the Premier League, which sees them move to the seventh place in the table, three points below Manchester City in fourth. Here’s how we rated the performances of the Chelsea stars on the night at Craven Cottage.
Edouard Mendy: 6/10
Back into the starting XI after sitting out the FA Cup tie against Morecambe, the Chelsea No. 1 did not have a whole lot to do on the night with Fulham not threatening a great deal. A misunderstanding with Azpilicueta in the first half led to a nervy moment, but a fairly comfortable outing other than that.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6/10
The Chelsea captain, preferred over the fit-again Reece James, had a difficult test against the marauding Robinson in the first half, who kept him honest. A poor backpass to Mendy almost led to a goal for Fulham. Azpilicueta pushed forward regularly after the break following Robinson’s sending off, as he played one key pass and shot over from a promising position.
Thiago Silva: 7/10
Thiago Silva 🔵🇧🇷 vs Fulham
-94% pass rate
-115 accurate passes(Most completed passes in match)
-7 long balls
-4 accurate long balls 🎯
-5 duels won
-3 aerials won
-O MONSTRO 🔥🙌🏼💙👏🏼 pic.twitter.com/gkKqsYcqsL
— 𝙍𝙚𝙮 𝙎𝙩𝙚𝙫𝙞𝙣𝙝𝙤 🇵🇾 (@Rey_Blues30) January 17, 2021
Reinstated to the starting lineup at the expense of Kurt Zouma, the Brazilian was rock solid at the back, sweeping up whatever came his way effectively. Ended the game with four clearances, one interception, one tackle and three aerial duels won. Reliable on the ball, Silva attempted (122) and completed the most number of passes (115) in the game. Also played in a key pass.
Antonio Rudiger: 7/10
A surprise starter ahead of Zouma, the German international put in a steady display at the heart of the Chelsea defence. Did well to deal with the threat of Cavaleiro for the most part and was fairly reliable apart from a couple of dodgy passes. Almost handed his team the lead in the first period, with his header being saved by Areola and also hit a fine cross leading to a chance. A step in the right direction.
Ben Chilwell: 7/10
Spent pretty much of the game on the front foot pushing forward down the left flank with purpose and intent. Played a key role in the winning goal as it was his dangerous cross that was parried into Mount’s path by the Fulham goalkeeper. Completed 88% of his passes, made one dribble along with two tackles and a clearance.
Mateo Kovacic: 5/10
Back into the starting XI, the Croatian international was accurate with his passing but lacked the creativity and the guile needed to unlock the Fulham defence. Offered a bit more drive after the break and was solid off the ball, but Lampard could have certainly done with a more creative presence like Kai Havertz against Fulham.
Another Jovacic blassic, Jorginho passing close to him sideways easy passes, not progressive or with any purpose, Kovacic sideways passing, doing nothing helpful then goes on a dribble & gets dispossessed & Jorginho over commits and they are running at our defence 😕
— DonkeysOut (@CarvalhoJTElite) January 16, 2021
Starting at the base of the Chelsea midfield in the absence of N’Golo Kante, the Italian failed to offer any sort of control despite his team bossing the possession. Wasn’t able to impose himself and dictate the tempo of the game. Did make a few interceptions but needed to do more when on the ball, which is why it wasn’t surprising to see him being the first player to be subbed off.
Mason Mount: 8/10
Came the closet to open the scoring in the first half when he rattled the crossbar with a well-struck effort. Looked the most likely to make things happen on the night as he played a game-high seven key passes and completed three dribbles.
Drove forward with intent, made smart runs and tried to create openings with neat touches and passes. Won it for his team with a volleyed effort from inside the box late in the game. No wonder Lampard uses the England international so regularly.
Mason Mount’s game by numbers vs. Fulham:
91% pass accuracy
30 final third passes
7 chances created
5 ball recoveries
4 shots (3 inside box)
3 successful take-ons
2 tackles won
The difference. 🔵🔵🔵 pic.twitter.com/wzCwFei5TN
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 16, 2021
Hakim Ziyech: 6.5/10
Looked sharp in the final third with his link-up play with Giroud leading to a chance which was saved by Areola. Produced a fine cross for Christian Pulisic in the second half, who couldn’t apply the finishing touches. Not at his most influential but looked good in parts before being taken off.
Olivier Giroud: 5.5/10
Not the Frenchman’s best display as he was well-marshalled for the most part by the Fulham backline. But, he still managed to test the Fulham goalkeeper with a decent strike in the first half while he also played in two key passes. Sent a great chance wide in the second period and would have been relieved to see the offside flag go up.
Christian Pulisic: 5/10
The USMNT international has found the going tough of late with performances well below the level expected of him. Endured a quiet first half where he struggled to get into dangerous positions to have an impact on the game. Slightly improved after the break, but was still unable to change the course of the game. Finished with two key passes, but is capable of so much more.
Christian Pulisic really doesn’t look himself.
Struggling to create, beat his man or get fully involved in the game. Hudson-Odoi is playing far better at the moment, no doubt about it.
— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) January 16, 2021
Tammy Abraham: 6/10
Replaced Jorginho a little after the hour mark. Had a headed effort saved soon after he came on. Provided an additional focal point at the top.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: 5/10
On for Ziyech in the 75th minute. Worked hard off the ball to help Chelsea protect the lead.
Timo Werner: 4/10
Timo Werner has now failed to convert any of his last seven big chances in the Premier League.
He can't catch a break at the moment. pic.twitter.com/1AGLVjT6wC
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 16, 2021
Replaced Giroud for the final 15 minutes. Missed a sitter when one-on-one with Areola in stoppage time.