In a game that saw the Blues qualify for the latter stages of the Champions league, we take a look back at who was vital in the 2-1 win and what we can take away from the game in France. It certainly wasn’t the best game Chelsea have ever played but the result means that Lampard’s side can rest key players in the Champions League over the hectic festive period.
1. Timo Werner needs a rest
It certainly wasn’t the greatest game Timo Werner has ever played in a Chelsea shirt, which could largely be down to the fact the German hasn’t really missed a game yet, coincidentally making Timo Chelsea’s most selected player, having played 1224 minutes this season.
Early on in the game, around the five-minute mark, Hudson-Odoi made a darting run down the right-wing and put in a wonderful cross for Werner who was all but 4 yards away from the goal. Somehow the usually prolific striker blazed the ball over the bar and into the stands, a shocking miss from a player of his quality. Werner also had one or two more chances during this game, with a chance for a header coming not so long after the first chance. Surprisingly the striker played around 90 minutes for the Blues, despite looking tired and not playing great, and got a final chance in the 90th minute, getting played through by Hakim Ziyech, only for his shot to be saved and the rebound headed in by Olivier Giroud. With Spurs on the horizon next weekend, it’s looking like Werner will have to regain his form soon if the blues are going to have a chance in the game.
2. Mason Mount was marvellous
This man just keeps on getting better and better. Usually, somewhat of a scapegoat from certain subsections of fans, Mason is proving all of the doubters wrong by putting in some excellent performances recently while playing in the centre of midfield. Off the back of great performances against Burnley, Sheffield, and Newcastle recently, Mount started alongside Kovacic and Jorginho in a midfield three and looked the best of the lot. The youngster gained an excellent assist in the 22nd minute of the game, after winning the ball back close to the Chelsea penalty area, bringing it forward before sending a brilliant long ball through the Rennes defence to Callum Hudson-Odoi, who slotted it home. The midfielder also had a 100% take-on completion rate and a 100% tackle completion rate. Mount was simply superb tonight and surely Chelsea’s man of the match, and we are seeing some magnificent performances in that number eight role.
3. Kante is vital to this team
Once again, as it was in the first leg, we saw the Chelsea midfield of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic get completely overrun against the French side. Trying to play Jorginho as a defensive midfielder when he seems reluctant to put in a challenge certainly wasn’t the best of choices by Frank Lampard, although it is understandable as N’golo Kante was in need of a rest. We saw large parts of the game where the home side were all over Chelsea, most of this coming through the midfield. This doesn’t happen when Kante plays in that defensive midfield role which is something we saw when he came on. Despite Rennes scoring a deserved equaliser, the addition of Kai Havertz to the midfield three alongside Kante changed the swing of the game for the Blues, a match which they easily could’ve lost. The introduction of the two allowed the blues a foothold into the game before they eventually found the winner through Olivier Giroud.
4. Hudson-Odoi takes his chance
A start for Hudson-Odoi was a huge opportunity against Rennes and the youngster certainly didn’t disappoint. Starting on the right-wing, Callum almost secured an assist within the first five minutes and a lovely move and cross put the ball on a plate for Timo Werner, who skied it. Hudson-Odoi did eventually make his mark in this game at the 22nd-minute mark after a wonderful long ball from Mason Mount found the feet of Callum who slotted it past the goalkeeper to make it 1-0 for the Blues. The winger had a quieter game after that but still had little sparks of brilliance with his dribbling and his nice link-up play. As a player who isn’t really featuring week in, week out for Frank Lampard, he certainly should be happy with his performance in terms of getting back into that first team and we could definitely see Callum either start ahead of Timo Werner or at-least make an appearance off the bench against Spurs and we have seen during this game the impact that he can have to this Chelsea team.
5. Another Mendy masterclass
It was always going to be an emotional night for Senegalese keeper Edouard Mendy when facing his former club at their home ground, but he certainly didn’t let it get to him. Despite conceding one goal, the keeper saved Chelsea completely in the game, making three huge saves to ensure the three points. One massive save came from a corner kick for Rennes, where the Rennes attacker headed the ball directly from the corner kick from around six yards out with a lot of power. Mendy’s superb reactions allowed him to catch the ball and prevent the Blues from losing the lead at that time. The improvement of the goalkeeper position has been so key to the form improvement for Frank Lampard’s team and it seems like Mendy has played a vital part in nearly every game he has played this season, and without him, it certainly could’ve been a tough night for the Blues in France.
With a decent defensive performance, things are looking up for Chelsea, who face off against Spurs at the weekend. Come on you blues!
Written by Ben (CarefreeCFC20)
Edited by Jai Mcintosh @jjmcintosh5