Kepa Arrizabalaga and Trevoh Chalobah were impressive as Chelsea earned a 2-0 win over Brentford in the Carabao Cup quarter-final on Wednesday.
The first half ended just as it had begun, but it was an engaging affair. Chelsea dominated the possession, but Brentford created the better chances, with Kepa Arrizabalaga making two superb saves to deny Yoane Wissa and Mathias Jensen from close range.
Brentford’s charge came to a grinding halt after the interval as Chelsea stepped up their efforts to break the deadlock. However, the Blues had to wait till the 80th minute to finally grab the lead, which came courtesy of a Pontus Jansson own goal, as the Brentford captain turned Reece James’s cross into his own net.
The win was rounded off five minutes later, as Jorginho converted from the spot after Alvaro Fernandez brought down Christian Pulisic. With the 2-0 win, Chelsea’s progression to the Carabao Cup semi-finals was sealed, with the west Londoners set to take on local rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the penultimate stage. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Thomas Tuchel’s men.
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 8/10
Kepa has come to the fore whenever the Blues have been put to the sword this season. And the Spanish goalkeeper was once again critical in earning Chelsea a win, as he made two big saves to deny Yoane Wissa and Mathias Jensen. Those stops kept Chelsea in the game in the first half before sealing the win late in the proceedings.
TT on Kepa. 💬
'He’s in that state of mind as a person, a character and a sportsman where he just delivers.
'This is what he shows every day in training and that’s why he gets the rewards and has these kind of performances.' 👊 pic.twitter.com/cQya0KSH1P
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 22, 2021
Cesar Azpilicueta: 7/10
After being benched for several games, Azpilicueta is getting enough chances to show Tuchel that he deserves more starting opportunities, which is exactly what he is doing. The Chelsea captain was solid for the most part and charged forward with purpose as the game progressed. The Spaniard also played a game-high four key passes, and all in all, it was a top-notch performance.
Trevoh Chalobah: 8/10
Chalobah’s stock continues to rise with every passing game, and on Wednesday, he was a solid customer at the heart of the Chelsea defence. The 22-year-old helped keep the backline organised and aided Malang Sarr when the Brentford attackers were giving him a tough time. He completed seven clearances and two tackles through the game while winning three duels. Job well done.
Malang Sarr: 6/10
Sarr is one of the players who are not making the most of the few opportunities being afforded to them. And unlike the Premier League game against Brentford, the Frenchman struggled to keep things tight in the crucial junctures of the first half, with Yoane Wissa, in particular, giving him a lot to worry about in the game. However, Sarr stepped up after the break and helped Chelsea keep a clean sheet.
Xavier Simons: 6.5/10
Simons finally received his maiden Chelsea start, and he was one of three players to make their full debuts for the Blues. The 18-year-old was not a world-beater by any means, but he still made an impact after a slow start to the game, as he linked up superbly with Azpilicueta while attempting a few dangerous crosses.
Xavier Simons vs Brentford:
– 3 crosses
– 92.3% pass accuracy in the opposition half
– 60% duels won.
— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) December 22, 2021
Mateo Kovacic: 7/10
Kovacic was a surprise starter, but it was a forced decision for Tuchel to put him in the lineup. However, the Croat braved lack of match fitness with aplomb and did well enough to ensure Brentford’s chance creation was restricted to a bare minimum. Chelsea fans will be eagerly waiting for him to regain full fitness.
Saul Niguez: 6/10
Keeping in mind his performances thus far for Chelsea, Saul was much-improved against Brentford even if it was not a spectacular display. Nonetheless, the Spaniard completed 91 per cent of his attempted passes, although Tuchel would need more imagination on the ball from him. Saul also worked hard off the ball, winning ten duels while making four tackles.
Marcos Alonso: 6/10
For much of the game, Pulisic was camped in the Brentford half. However, as has been the case with him for a long time, his end product left a lot to be desired, as he only played two key passes despite attempting seven crosses. The Spaniard has not made the most of his opportunities in Ben Chilwell’s absence.
Ross Barkley: 6/10
Barkley was the most involved of the three Chelsea attackers who started the game, but the English international could not direct his efforts into the Brentford goal. Other than that, some of his touches were wasteful, although he did play one key pass. He has to do better to have a shot at remaining at Chelsea.
Harvey Vale: 7/10
4 years of seeing Harvey Vale for Chelsea and England
I have seen him play
No idea where he will end up in the future,
But he can play ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/rqGayAmz5R
— TheSecretScout (@TheSecretScout_) December 22, 2021
Primed for big things in future, Vale showed what the fuss is all about to a great extent. While he did not see too many openings coming his way, the 18-year-old did draw a save out of Alvaro Fernandez. The youngster also put in the hard yards off the ball, winning two tackles in the process.
Jude Soonsup-Bell: 7/10
The third player to be handed his first-team full debut by Tuchel, Soonsup-Bell looked eager to make an impression on the rare occasions he saw the ball. The 17-year-old created a good half-chance for Barkley, but other than that, he was not involved a great deal. Still, it was a memorable outing for the teenager.
Following Kovacic’s brave outing in the first half, it was Jorginho’s time to take the field at the break. And the Italian international continued to assert Chelsea’s control over the possession before calmly slotting his penalty from the spot.
Jorginho has scored three goals in his last three games for Chelsea.
⚽️⚽️ vs. Leeds
❌ vs. Wolves
⚽️ vs. Brentford
The man for a spot kick. 👌 pic.twitter.com/Qkrt7WavAg
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 22, 2021
Christian Pulisic: 6/10
Pulisic replaced Soonsup-Bell at half-time, with Tuchel adding more experience to his side to help break the deadlock. However, the USMNT international struggled to get into the game, although he did win the penalty that Jorginho converted.
Mason Mount: 6/10
Mount replaced Vale as Tuchel sought more creativity from his player. However, the English international did not see the ball as much as he would have liked, meaning he could not create too many chances.
Reece James: 7/10
James replaced Simons in the right wing-back slot for the final quarter of the game and was his boisterous self. The Englishman played a major role in helping Chelsea grab the lead as it was his cross that was turned into his own net by Pontus Jansson.
N’Golo Kante: N/A
Surprisingly included after Tuchel initially suggested that he won’t be, Kante was heavily involved in the final 15 minutes of the game and laid the ball on for James in the build-up to the opener.