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FA Cup

Nightmare Chelsea debut for Fofana as Koulibaly, Ziyech flop; Aubameyang is dropped vs Man City

8:03 PM WAT 08/01/2023
Datro Fofana against Manchester City.
Datro Fofana endured a tough Chelsea debut while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was dropped from the squad as the Blues lost to Manchester City.
  • Fofana was a second-half substitute but failed to make an impact
  • The Ivory Coast striker found the going tough against City’s defenders
  • Koulibaly gave away a penalty while Ziyech did not create anything

WHAT HAPPENED? Fofana started from the bench before making his long-awaited debut as a halftime substitute, coming on for Mateo Kovacic after watching his new side go down 3-0 at the break, in the FA Cup tie.

With Aubameyang not in the squad at the Etihad Stadium, Chelsea coach Graham Potter opted against starting the new signing upfront, going with Kai Havertz instead, but the Blues looked toothless as City run rings around them, forcing him into a change at the break.

The Ivory Coast striker failed to get any opportunities to capitalise on as he was closely watched by City's defenders, who did not give him space to run in behind.

Fofana was introduced after Pep Guardiola’s men had taken a 3-0 lead after 38 minutes courtesy of Riyad Mahrez’s brilliant freekick, a Julian Alvarez penalty and Phil Foden’s great finish.

The 20-year-old, who joined this month from Norwegian side Molde, did not have an attempt at goal in a game when fellow Africans Kalidou Koulibaly and Hakim Ziyech failed to make an impact.

Koulibaly struggled with the rhythm of the game as well as the pace of the City forwards and was caught ball watching for the third goal when he failed to get tighter to Foden while Ziyech, starting his second straight game, failed to deliver a cross or create a chance for his teammates from the right wing.

It turned from bad to worse for the Senegal captain when he gave away a penalty for City’s fourth goal, scored by Mahrez, after bringing down Foden in the box.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Fofana has walked into a team out of form and low on confidence but he will have to hit the ground running to help lift his side who have now won just one of their last six matches.

With Aubameyang struggling and Havertz not an out-and-out striker, Fofana has a chance to make the centre-forward position his own if can score consistently. City have now knocked Chelsea out of two domestic cups, following their 2-0 victory over the Blues in the League Cup in November.

ALL EYESON: Focus was on Fofana to see if he would be handed a start but got his opportunity from the bench and could not do much given his side were second best while also out of the game by the time he came on.

THE VERDICT: Chelsea’s problem is not just scoring goals but also creating them and Potter has a big job on his hands to try and come with a way that his side can be inventive which will help the likes of Fofana going forward.

WHAT’S NEXT? Potter and his charges can ease off some pressure when they face West London rivals Fulham in their next Premier League match on Thursday.