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Winners & Losers

Pulisic has lift-off & please don't write off Mount: Chelsea winners, losers and ratings

1:16 AM SGT 9/10/22
Chelsea winners, losers & ratings
The Blues had a comfortable afternoon against a lacklustre Wolves side - the perfect preparation for a crucial clash with Milan on Tuesday night.

Talk about domination. Chelsea swatted Wolves aside at Stamford Bridge as Graham Potter made it three wins on the bounce and ensured the Blues go into Tuesday's potentially decisive Champions League clash with AC Milan on a high note.

Wolves, to be fair, made it easy for their opponents as they backed off and allowed Chelsea to do what they liked in the game, with Potter even having the luxury of resting a few of his in-form players.

Dropped against Milan last week, Kai Havertz responded with the opening goal although it was a largely quiet afternoon for the Germany international.

That would've felt particularly good for Christian Pulisic, though.

The USMNT star has had a frustrating time of it over the last 12 months but, making just his second start of the 2022-23 campaign, scored his first goal since May as he demonstrated that he still has much to offer at Stamford Bridge.

To cap it all off, Armando Broja smashed home his first ever Chelsea goal. And what a goal it was.

Three points, top four. Bring on Milan.

  • Christian Pulisic Chelsea 2022-23

    The Winners

    Christian Pulisic:

    What a moment for Pulisic.

    Frustrated for so long under Thomas Tuchel, he got his first start under Graham Potter and he made it count.

    Yes, he wasted a couple of presentable opportunities in the first half in particular but you can forgive the rustiness, given his lack of game time.

    His jinking run and composed finish added Chelsea's second goal at what was a crucial time and it was undoubtedly the highlight of the game.

    That was his first goal for club or country since May and he'll be hoping he's now done enough to start in Milan for Tuesday night's pivotal Champions League showdown.

    Cesar Azpilicueta:

    Given Reece James's performance against AC Milan last time out, Chelsea fans could've been forgiven for raising an eyebrow or two at Azpilicueta's inclusion here.

    Still, Potter's decision to rest the England international ahead of the trip to San Siro paid off as the Spaniard impressed over the 90 minutes, creating three chances in the first half that should have led to at least a goal.

    He'll probably drop out of the XI on Tuesday night but Potter will know he can rely on his captain whenever he needs him - and he will need him again in what will be a gruelling 2022-23 campaign.

    Mason Mount:

    It's been a relatively subdued start to the 2022-23 season for Mount, having failed to find the net for the Blues thus far and seeing his place in Gareth Southgate's England team come into question.

    He went some way to answering his critics against Wolves, however, as he claimed two assists and was generally one of Chelsea's best players.

    His finishing was a little wayward but he created more chances (five) than any other player during his time on the pitch and his gorgeous assist for Kai Havertz's opener was a particular highlight.

    Write him off at your peril.

  • The Losers

    Ruben Loftus-Cheek:

    To be fair to Loftus-Cheek, he didn't do too much wrong, it's more that he didn't really impose himself on the game either.

    Chelsea have a packed squad and are bulging with options in midfield, so any chance that Loftus-Cheek gets he's going to need to take it. He wasn't able to do so here.

    Hakim Ziyech:

    The outlook doesn't look good for Hakim Ziyech.

    Brought on for the final four minutes of the win over Wolves, he's going to struggle to get in ahead of the likes of Mount and Gallagher.

    It's just not worked out for the former Ajax midfielder in west London full stop, and it may well be that Potter looks to move him on before too long.

    Denis Zakaria:

    Things aren't looking great for Zakaria either. Thomas Tuchel signed the former Juventus midfielder in the summer before he was sacked by the club and Graham Potter doesn't seem too fussed about using him.

    Indeed, Zakaria is yet to make an appearance for the Blues, and wasn't in the matchday squad for the Wolves game.

    The 25-year-old has indicated he's going to fight for his place in the team but, and despite the fact we're only in October, he might need to have a word with his agent before too long.

  • Cesar Azpilicueta Chelsea 2022-23

    Chelsea Ratings: Defence

    Kepa Arrizabalaga (6/10):

    A relatively quiet afternoon for Kepa. Pushed away Joao Moutinho's drilled free-kick in the first half but had a couple of nervy moments, with one in the second 45 seeing him flap at a cross. Still, a clean sheet and it's likely he'll keep his place ahead of Mendy.

    Cesar Azpilicueta (8/10):

    The Chelsea captain came in for Reece James and showed that he still has a part for play for the Blues with a solid afternoon's work. Created numerous chances in the first half as he continuously supported attacks. Unfortunate not to get an assist.

    Trevoh Chalobah (6/10):

    In from the start for only the second time in the 2022-23 campaign and had little to do as Chelsea dominated from start to finish.

    Kalidou Koulibaly (6/10):

    Occasionally wasteful in possession but marshalled the defence well and kept Diego Costa quiet on his return to Stamford Bridge.

    Marc Cucurella (5/10):

    Didn't get close enough to Adama at times as he allowed the Wolves winger to swing over a couple of dangerous crosses but improved defensively as the game went on. Crucial block to deny Podence just after the hour mark.

  • Midfield

    Jorginho (6/10):

    Kept Chelsea ticking over and almost scored in the first half as his low shot was kept out by Sa. Booked for a lunge on Matheus Nunez as Wolves countered.

    Ruben Loftus-Cheek (5/10):

    Didn't really take his chance to shine in what was his second start in a row. Smashed an effort over the bar in the first half when he should've done better and occasionally wasteful in possession. Hooked in the 66th minute and may now lose his place.

    Conor Gallagher (7/10):

    Was brought into the starting XI after his late heroics against Crystal Palace and certainly didn't let his manager down. Was full of running and did his fair share of tracking back to support Azpilicueta behind him. Almost put one straight onto Havertz's head early on in the second half, only for Sa to deny the German a tap-in. An impressive performance and he proved he can be relied upon.

  • Kai Havertz Chelsea 2022-23

    Attack

    Christian Pulisic (8/10):

    Making just his second start of the season, he was clearly rusty and wasteful with his finishing in the first half. Was unlucky not to score with an effort from distance that was well saved by Sa but he didn't let his head drop and eventually produced the moment of the match as he jinked inside and linked up with Mount before calmly slotting home to make it 2-0. Taken off after 72 minutes.

    Mason Mount (8/10):

    Buzzed around the front and found space as he turned in a typically industrious performance. His finishing could've been better, as he wasted a couple of presentable opportunities, but crucially claimed two assists - the first, a delicious deep cross that set-up Havertz, being a particular highlight. Brought off after 72 minutes to rest up for Milan.

    Kai Havertz (7/10):

    Largely anonymous in the first half and quiet in the second 45 too but his looping header in stoppage time of the opening period gave Chelsea the lead. Almost had a second soon after half-time but his lobbed effort was well saved by Sa on the stretch. Will be interesting to see if he now drops out for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on Tuesday night.

  • Subs & Manager

    Mateo Kovacic (5/10):

    Came on after 65 minutes and claimed an assist as he played the ball into Broja for the 21-year-old's first Chelsea goal.

    Reece James (5/10):

    Introduced in the 72nd minute although didn't contribute too much as the Blues already had the game won. Will come back into the team for Tuesday night's fixture at the San Siro.

    Armando Broja (7/10):

    Brought on after 72 minutes and took his chance with a beautiful finish drilled into the corner of the net late on. Not a bad way to open his account for Chelsea!

    Hakim Ziyech (5/10): Only introduced late on in the game so little time to make an impact.

    Carney Chukwuemeka (5/10): Will be delighted to have made his Chelsea debut although only brought on for the final few minutes.

    Graham Potter (8/10):

    The spotlight was on him after he made seven changes from the 2-1 win over Crystal Palace and ultimately it paid off. The Blues dominated the game from the off and were able to rest a few ahead of the crucial Champions League clash with AC Milan on Tuesday night. Job done.