An Alvaro Morata double in the second half, helped Chelsea pick up a comfortable 2-0 win in the 3rd round of the FA Cup at home to Nottingham Forest, in Cesc Fabregas’s farewell game.
The main story coming into this game was that this game will most likely be Cesc Fabregas’s farewell game in a Chelsea shirt, ahead of his proposed move to Monaco, where he will reunite with Thierry Henry.
The Spanish Maestro, therefore, wanted a perfect send-off, and to achieve this he would have wanted to play the perfect game and maybe score or assist in his last appearance for the Club.
He had chances to achieve the perfect send-off in the 30th minute when he had a chance from the penalty spot after Loftus-Cheek was fouled by a Forest defender. However, his tame and stuttery effort was well saved by Luke Steele in the Forest goal to the Spaniard’s frustration.
Chelsea went into half-time 0-0, which was a bit of a worry as an upset could have potentially been on the cards if Chelsea didn’t step it up in the first half. However they did step it up, and in the 49th minute a Callum Hudson-Odoi low cross into the Forest box was turned in well by Morata to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead in this tie.
The Blues then pushed on in the second half and got the second goal in the 59th minute, when Callum Hudson-Odoi’s was headed home by Morata who out jumped Yacob to give Chelsea a 2-0 lead.
Forest then came to the party after going 2-0 down, and had chances to grab a consolation goal through Murphy and Osborn which were not taken to Chelsea’s relief, as that would have set up a nervy ending for the Blues.
Fabregas was then subbed in the 85th minute for Kante to a standing ovation from the Stamford Bridge faithful, as Chelsea saw out a 2-0 win against Forest.
Player and Manager Ratings
Caballero- 6 (Didn’t have much to do)
Zappacosta- 7 (Delivered a lovely cross in the first half onto the head of Morata)
Christensen- 6 (Calm and composed performance from the Danish International)
Luiz- 7 (Good defensive performance, but also played some lovely balls out from the back to set up a few Chelsea attacks)
Ampadu-7 (Very solid performance in the midfield from the young Welshman. Made a few loose passes, but that’s expected of a young player)
Fabregas- 6 (Unfortunate to have his penalty saved by Steele)
Barkley- 5 (Average)
Loftus-Cheek- 7 (Subbed early due to back injury, but played very well in the first half- winning Chelsea the penalty)
Morata- 7 (Scored 2 goals, however, missed at least 3 sitters. The Spaniard could have scored 5 goals today)
Hudson-Odoi- 9 (MOTM- Excellent performance. 2 assists in this game for him. Showed today that Chelsea shouldn’t sell him to Bayern as he has a massive future at the club. He should really get some more game time now after that wonderful performance which may convince him to sign a new contract)
Hazard- 6 (Didn’t do too much when he came on)
Azpilicueta- 7 (Stabilised the Chelsea backline when they were 2-0 up)
Kante- 5 (Came on very late, so had little time to impact the match)
Manager Rating- Maurizio Sarri- 7- Picked the right team in my opinion, considering all the injuries. Brought on Hazard too early in my opinion. He should have given Moses the chance to replace Loftus-Cheek. Hazard really needed rest as Chelsea need him to be 100% fit for their upcoming Carabao Cup Semi-Final first leg against Tottenham on Tuesday.
Nottingham Forest (4-2-3-1)
Steele- 8 (Made some excellent saves to keep Forest in the game. Made the save from the penalty and also made a wonderful save to deny Morata from close range in the first half. Also made a superb save from Hudson-Odoi in the second half)
Darikwa- 6 (Solid in the first half, but exploited in the second half)
Yacob- 4 (Poor for Morata’s second goal)
Fox- 5 (Average)
Janko- 6 (Solid in the first half, but exploited in the second half)
Colback- 7 (Solid in the midfield)
Guedioura- 7 (Was the only forest midfielder trying long shots in the first and second half)
Osborn- 6 (Had a good chance in the second half)
Carvalho- 5 (Quiet game)
Cash-5 (Quite game)
Murphy-6 (Had very little service. However had a chance from a corner in the second half which nearly ended up in the back of the Chelsea net)
Lolley- 5 (Didn’t make a massive impact to the game)
Manager Rating- Aitor Karanka- 7- Picked a solid team. Still confused why Grabban wasn’t in the squad. He should be proud of his players for making it a competitive game against a top 6 Premier League side, especially in the first half.
Match Statistics (Credit- BBC Sport)
Chelsea Nottingham Forest
Possession (%) 62 38
Shots 23 12
Shots on Target 9 2
Corners 10 5
Fouls 4 11
Manager and Player Comments (Credit- BBC Sport)
Chelsea Assistant Manager: Carlo Cudicini
Carlo Cudicini, assistant to Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri, on Alvaro Morata: “It was very important for him to score two goals, which can only be good for his confidence.
“We are all pleased with his performance, but we were even when he didn’t score in previous games.
“Hopefully it will be good for his morale and hopefully he will be freer in his mind.
‘He’s a great striker, he has great qualities and now his confidence is back I’m sure he will keep on scoring goals for us.”
Cudicini on Hudson-Odoi: “He did very well; it was a very good performance – two assists and he worked very hard defensively.
“His commitment was great and you want him to have performances like that so he can put some doubts in Maurizio’s mind and be in contention for a place.”
Chelsea Player: Ross Barkley
Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley on Cesc Fabregas: “As a young lad, seeing Cesc play for Arsenal and then for Barcelona and Chelsea, you can see how intelligent he is. Playing with him has been a pleasure.
“He has played for Spain at a time when they were winning everything and he is going to go down as one of the best midfielders ever.”
Nottingham Forest Manager: Aitor Karanka
Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka: “They were too good but the main thing for me was, when we were losing 2-0, we played like we normally would and we tried to press them high.
“It was difficult because it was the fifth game in two weeks and most of the players have played all of those games, so you can imagine how tired they are, and not just physically.
“I tried to change something tactically in the second half and we started to play, but the goal made it even more difficult.
“It is a day to take the good things, to know that we have a committed team on the pitch.”
Next games for both teams
Chelsea next plays in the Carabao Cup next Tuesday in the 1st leg of their Semi-Final against Tottenham. Then they play on the weekend in the later kick off on Saturday against Newcastle at home in the Premier League. Nottingham Forest plays next Saturday in the Championship away to a Reading side who are in poor form in the Championship. However the Royals gave a good account of themselves against Manchester United today in the FA Cup even though they lost 2-0. So this won’t be an easy game for Karanka’s side.
Check out Chivers and Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris’s post match analysis podcast from this game, which will be on Sportstalkline.com soon.
By Danyal Khan