Antonio Rudiger and Malang Sarr were among those who were top-notch as Chelsea beat Tottenham 1-0 to book their place in the Carabao Cup final.
Tottenham started the game strongly but made little of their early dominance, prompting Chelsea to take control over the proceedings. Chances still came few and far between for the Blues before Antonio Rudiger broke the deadlock in the 18th minute by heading in from Mason Mount’s corner.
Tottenham slowly grew in the ascendancy and thought they had won a penalty in the 42nd minute, only for VAR to rule it out and convert it into a free-kick as Rudiger’s foul on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was outside the box.
Spurs were the stronger of the two sides after the break, but VAR remained the scourge for them, as after calling back another penalty call, Harry Kane’s goal was ruled out as he was offside. Still, Kepa Arrizabalaga had two solid stops to make to preserve his clean sheet, which eventually paved the way for a 1-0 win.
The result means Chelsea’s place in next month’s Carabao Cup final has been secured by a 3-0 aggregate win. The Blues will meet the winner of the game between Liverpool and Arsenal in the tie, with the first leg of the other semi-final set to be played on Thursday. The Hard Tackle runs the rule over both sets of players.
Pierluigi Gollini: 4/10
A surprise starter ahead of Hugo Lloris, Gollini was culpable for conceding the game’s only goal. The Italian was caught in two minds when dealing with Mason Mount’s corner, which Antonio Rudiger eventually turned in. Gollini did make two saves later on, but the damage had already been done.
Japhet Tanganga: 5/10
Unlike last week, Tanganga was not directly at fault for a goal. But the young defender again looked troubled by the Chelsea attackers and had to step up. Like most of his teammates, his passing was largely inaccurate, and he completed only 73 per cent of his attempted passes.
Davinson Sanchez: 5/10
Much improved from his performance last week, Sanchez was not as shaky at the back as in the first leg and completed a game-high five clearances. But his passing left a lot to be desired and played a role in Tottenham’s struggles to build-up play from the defensive third.
Ben Davies: 6/10
Davies was the best Tottenham player on Wednesday and oddly looked the most potent outlet, which speaks volumes about how poor Spurs’ creative output was on the night. The Welshman never looked troubled at the back and continues his resurgence under Antonio Conte.
Emerson Royal: 5/10
On Wednesday, Emerson deserved a goal for his troubles but was denied superbly by Chelsea shot-stopper Kepa Arrizabalaga. However, the Brazilian failed in his primary duty as the right wing-back and did not look like making things happen at any time while also losing possession a staggering 18 times.
Giovani Lo Celso: 5/10
In what was perhaps the last roll of the die from Conte on him, Lo Celso had the chance to prove he had a lot to offer to Tottenham. However, that was not the case, as apart from his set-piece deliveries, the Argentine international carried no creative threat. He is one of many Tottenham players set to depart the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this month.
Harry Winks: 6/10
Winks produced a performance that showed why Conte has changed his status from being transferrable to a valuable member of his squad. While the Englishman did not stand out as such, he ensured that Mason Mount struggled to express himself. He deserves a run in the side.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: 5/10
Hojbjerg was deployed in a box-to-box midfield role, and he looked to push Tottenham forward with precision. But the Danish international’s passes lacked precision, and he did not have the cutting edge to make things happen.
Matt Doherty: 4/10
Installed as a left wing-back once again, Doherty was yet again a liability for Tottenham and made no impact on either end of the pitch. His days at the club are numbered, and a January exit beckons him.
Harry Kane: 5/10
Kepa had his hand up for offside the whole time-man knew exactly what he was doing 😂 pic.twitter.com/A5UalVPDRc
— Saranya Walters (@dukebaby401) January 12, 2022
It was a game to forget for Kane, who never looked like he would trouble Kepa Arrizabalaga and constantly found opposition defenders blocking his efforts. The Englishman did have the ball into the back of the net in the second half but was rightly denied the goal as he was offside.
Lucas Moura: 6/10
Lucas Moura was the only Tottenham player who looked like he could make something happen. But his wastefulness on the ball pegged him back constantly, with the Brazilian losing possession 15 times.
Ryan Sessegnon: 5/10
An upgrade over Doherty, Sessegnon looked much more suited to reprise the left wing-back role, although his passing was dreadful for the most part.
Bryan Gil: 6/10
A bright spark after his introduction, Gil looked to make things happen but to no avail.
Oliver Skipp: N/A
A late introduction, Skipp barely had any time to tip the scales in Tottenham’s favour.
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 7.5/10
Kepa might not have been as pivotal in earning Chelsea the win on Wednesday as he was last week. But he still made two solid stops to preserve his clean sheet and boost his stock further. The Spaniard earned a reprieve when Kane was denied a goal due to offside, but many may even call him a genius judging by his awareness to appeal for an offside call.
Andreas Christensen: 8/10
Tuchel continued to ease Christensen back into the thick of the action, and the Dane was top-class at the back before his substitution. He completed four clearances and made a staggering four blocks. On the ball, he was accurate, misplacing just five of his 68 attempted passes.
Antonio Rudiger: 8/10
Antonio Rudiger's game by numbers vs. Tottenham:
96.3% pass accuracy (best)
87 touches (most)
2 aerial duels won (=most)
1 blocked shot
1 chance created
A rock at the back. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/098oVsdOkX
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 12, 2022
Rudiger made all the difference by nodding in the match-winner from Mason Mount’s corner. Other than that, the German international was largely solid at the back, although he was fortunate that his foul on Hojbjerg was marginally outside the box. His output on the ball was quite remarkable, as he completed 97 per cent of his attempted passes.
Malang Sarr: 8/10
Much like last week, Sarr was colossal at the back and did not let Kane go about his business at all. The youngster barely let anyone past him and read the game beautifully. There were a few sloppy moments on the ball, though, which pulls the rating back slightly.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6/10
Tottenham directed most of their moves down the right flank, meaning it was largely a quiet night for Cesar Azpilicueta. The Chelsea captain remained professional throughout, completing most of his attempted passes while diligently defending when called into action.
Chelsea’s midfield tends to shine whenever they keep a clean sheet, which was the case against Tottenham. Jorginho, along with Mateo Kovacic, was supremely solid in the middle of the park and barely lost the ball cheaply. The Chelsea vice-captain also won each of his ground duels while completing three interceptions and two tackles.
🇮🇹 Jorginho won all his ground duels (4/4), completed all his dribbles (1/1) and made more interceptions (4) than any other player against Tottenham.
Solid Performance. 🪨 pic.twitter.com/TxDgOQglgO
— Mozo Football (@MozoFootball) January 12, 2022
Mateo Kovacic: 8/10
Kovacic was thoroughly professional in his display against Tottenham and kept the hosts at bay like his midfield partner. On Wednesday, the Croat was in his element and never let Giovani Lo Celso express himself freely. He also opened up play beautifully with some precise long passes.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: 7/10
Installed in a hybrid left wing-back role, Hudson-Odoi was a constant outlet down the left flank and played two key passes. That being said, the youngster’s crosses lacked bite, and he also lost the ball carelessly a few times.
Mason Mount: 6/10
Mount’s blow-hot-blow-cold form continued on Wednesday, although he did not need to be in full flow. Although he played two key passes, the Chelsea playmaker was wasteful on the ball, losing the possession 16 times. Thomas Tuchel will want his talisman to regain his touch.
Timo Werner: 7/10
Tuchel had hinted his pre-match press conference that he could play Werner and Romelu Lukaku together, and that is precisely what he did. The German international’s interplay with his strike partner was promising, even though it did not yield a goal – bright signs for the future.
Romelu Lukaku x Timo Werner up front for Chelsea… ⚔️
𝐏𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐏𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/EYnXtKvVsT
— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) January 12, 2022
Romelu Lukaku: 7/10
Lukaku, the Player to Watch in our preview, might not have played his part in the win but was a menace for the Tottenham defenders with his movement. The Belgian striker even completed two key passes but also missed one big chance.
Thiago Silva: 6/10
On for Christensen, Silva was a busy customer at the back in the game’s final quarter and did well enough, completing three interceptions and two tackles.
Marcos Alonso: 6/10
Sent into the game in place of Werner, Alonso was again solid in his defensive duties while keeping play ticking when on the ball.
Hakim Ziyech: 5/10
On for Mount, Ziyech barely carried a threat in the final quarter of the game, with Chelsea looking to preserve what they had rather than push for more goals.
N’Golo Kante: N/A
Introduced in place of Kovacic, Kante was a solid customer in the final 15 minutes.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek: N/A
A late introduction in place of Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek helped see the game out.