Chelsea 5-1 Chesterfield: Five things we learnt as Blues powered by Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner overcome fearless visitors in FA Cup third round

FA Cup third round weekend is always special and there have been shocks aplenty but fortunately for Chelsea they weren’t the victims of one on Saturday against National League table toppers Chesterfield.

A flurry of goals in the first twenty minutes eased any nerves including a wonderful effort from Callum Hudson-Odoi before Andreas Christensen got his second goal for the club and a Hakim Ziyech penalty put the cherry on the cake.

The Spireites would have the last laugh and leave Stamford Bridge with a moment to treasure and use as motivation in their push to return to the Football League.

Chelsea hammered Chesterfield in the FA Cup third round with a strong side. Edit by @181ballers
Chelsea hammered Chesterfield in the FA Cup third round with a strong side. Edit by @181ballers

The next Cobham wave is upon Chelsea after performing against Chesterfield

At just 17 years old, Saturday, January 8 will be a day that Lewis Hall will never forget as he capped a first team debut with a with a very good performance.

From the start he caught the eye with his determined defensive work and confidence on the ball. It was that defensive work combined with a marauding run forward that saw him provide the ball for Romelu Lukaku’s goal and Chelsea’s third. He was also involved in winning the ball back for Chelsea’s opener triggering the counter attack for Timo Werner’s goal. As the game went on he grew in confidence and started to become a key figure in Chelsea progressing the ball forward.

His struggles with cramp in the last quarter of an hour highlight the extra work he needs to put in for the step up to first team football but there are no questions about his ability or what he would bring to Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea, especially considering the current problems at wing back.

After making his home debut against Tottenham, Harvey Vale came off the bench in the second half and started off in attack before dropping back to right wing back, highlighting his versatility. Charlie Webster and Xavier Simons were also on the bench.

The Saul Niguez renaissance

When the Spanish midfielder joined the club on deadline day, he brought some welcome relief, after Billy Gilmour’s departure on loan to Norwich, for a squad that looked light on midfield options. But, within weeks fans were questioning the signing after a string of poor performances from him and whether he offered more than the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek already at the club.

However, since the Wolves game, marred by non-footballing reasons, his form has been on an upwards curve and a man of the match display against Tottenham was followed up by a professional and controlled display against Chesterfield. His passing once again caught the eye but more impressive work in tight situations with the ball at his feet helped the Blues escape the determined press of the visitors.

Fans will be hoping this can continue over a longer period of time until the end of the season and give Tuchel a viable alternative to Mateo Kovacic, N’golo Kante and Jorginho when they need a break or are injured.

Mateo Kovacic back to his best after impressive Chesterfield display?

The Croatian has experienced a disrupted season so far with a hamstring injury ruling him out for a couple of months before testing positive for Covid just after he returned to training, and many wondered what impact he would have this season. Those worries have been quickly dismissed.

His involvement in the wins against Brentford, Aston Villa, Brighton and Tottenham were pivotal but it was his goal and general play against Liverpool that starred the most. But back to the present and his marauding driving runs forward from midfield caught the eye once again as he glided past the Chesterfield players with relative ease. Also, his range of passing adds another asset to his game and on Saturday he made two key passes including creating one big chance but finished with no assists.

He may have only been on the pitch for the first half, but his influence ensured the Blues went into the break 4-0 up and allowed Tuchel to rest key players, including Kovacic himself, ahead of two important fixtures against Tottenham and Manchester City. Moreover, his driving runs help to add another facet to this Chelsea team providing them with further options. An in form Kovacic is not only good for Chelsea but also football in general.

Both players have had a mixed season so far with varying degrees of success and the third round of the FA Cup presented them both with a perfect opportunity to rediscover form and confidence. And both somewhat did that with a goal each but away from that Lukaku spurned several chances whilst Werner struggled with his general play.

But a particular highlight of their two performances was how they combined together to form a partnership that caused the Chesterfield defence many a headache. Lukaku’s strength and Werner’s pace provided a perfect contrast and the link up play between them only furthered that pain. Better finishing would’ve seen a more rewarding night but with matches coming thick and fast this duo gives Tuchel options in who he can play in attack.

Chesterfield show spirited effort

Everyone knew heading into this game that for a shock to happen Chesterfield would have to summon a performance that would rank with the very best in the history of the game. Despite that not happening and them slipping to a 5-1 defeat they didn’t stop running or trying to put the European Champions under pressure and they got their just reward late on.

In the 80th minute Kabongo Tshimanga’s shot was saved by Marcus Bettinelli’s legs, but the deflection took it into the path of Akwasi Asante who made no mistake and sent 6,000 fans into delirium in the Shed End. It was more than they deserved for their tireless performance and for years to come those players and fans will have a story to tell about that night at Stamford Bridge in January 2021.

Written by Harrison Burridge (@indepthFandC)

Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)

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