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Winners & Losers

Finally, something for Potter to smile about! Chelsea winners, losers & ratings as Blues start Mudryk era with ugly win on emotional day at Stamford Bridge

16:58 GMT 15/01/2023
Havertz-Chelsea-Mudruk-Potter-GFX
Chelsea eked out a vital 1-0 Premier League win against Crystal Palace, on a day when the club paid tribute to Gianluca Vialli

It wasn't pretty, it wasn't particularly convincing, but my word was it important.

On an emotional day at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea fans paid tribute to club legend Gianluca Vialli, the Blues ground out a precious victory against Crystal Palace which went some way to lifting the cloud of negativity that has festered in west London since before the World Cup break.

Kai Havertz, who in truth could have had a hat trick, was their saviour, leaping gracefully to divert Hakim Ziyech's perfect cross past Vicente Guaita in the Palace goal.

Potter had a hero to thank at the other end too, though. Although the addition of Benoit Badiashile added some solidity to their recently porous backline, the tricky Eagles still carved out their fair share of chances and the under-fire Kepa Arrizabalaga came to his side's rescue with several smart saves.

If Chelsea had been a bit slicker in the final third, Kepa would not have had such an anxiety-inducing afternoon. And Potter will be hoping that his new signing, Mykhailo Mudryk - who was the subject of a subdued unveiling at half time - can help in that regard.

It would be far too much to say that this felt like the 'Chelsea are back!' moment. But it's something. It's a start. And with the way things have been going recently, that is all the Blues can really hope for at this stage.

Here are GOAL's winners and losers from the game...

  • Havertz-Chelsea-Palace-2023

    The Winners

    Mykhailo Mudryk:

    Chelsea are a confused mess on and off the field right now, and nothing quite sums this up like the bewildering - if short-lived - Mudryk transfer saga. After gazumping Arsenal's bid and contract offer during a whirlwind few hours in Turkey, the Blues squeezed every microgram of value out of the announcement, revealing their capture of the Ukrainian through a barrage of not-so-subtle social media posts. Although Mudryk made his preference for the Gunners abundantly clear, he is a far richer man after choosing west over north London. Chelsea made a real fuss over him at half time too, and he's bound to see plenty of minutes with the Blues failing to fire up front.

    Chelsea fans:

    The game was prefaced by a perfectly-executed tribute to Chelsea legend Gianluca Vialli, who sadly passed away at the age of 58 on January 6. Two stunning tifos were unveiled in The Shed and Matthew Harding Stand, while the two sets of players were joined in the centre circle by a host of Vialli's former team-mates. After an emotional video that retold the story of Vialli's transformative effect on the Blues, those in the middle - including John Terry, Graeme Le Saux and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink - came together with the fans in honouring the Italian with a minute's applause. A heartfelt tribute, impeccably observed.

    Kai Havertz:

    For a long time, it didn't look like it was going to be Havertz's afternoon. A few trampoline touches early on set the tone for a testing first half, where he was outmuscled by Palace's centre-backs and also guided a free header wide. However, the German has a knack for comebacks and when he rose high to power home Hakim Ziyech's cross, Stamford Bridge breathed a collective sigh of relief. With Joao Felix out for the next two games, Mount out of form and new-boy Mudryk needing time to adjust to life in the Premier League, Chelsea need Havertz to rediscover his killer instinct, go on a scoring run and propel the Blues up the table. His miss at the end isn't a great sign, but hey, at least he got one right?

  • Aubameyang-Potter-Chelsea-2023

    The Losers

    Anyone who wanted the Chelsea job:

    Publically, Graham Potter has been putting on a brave face recently, insisting the both the board and his players' have full faith in him after another damaging defeat to Fulham on Thursday. However, failure to beat Palace - as the Blues have done in the last 10 Premier League meetings between the pair - would have plunged his position into even more doubt. Unfortunately for any managerial free agents hoping for a Stamford Bridge payday, Potter rolled his socks up on Sunday and watched his patched-together side grind out an ugly three points against their London rivals. It's bought him some time, and with Mudryk poised to make his debut against Liverpool next time out, perhaps things are finally looking up for the beleaguered Blues boss.

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang:

    Again, Aubameyang was left out of the starting lineup on Sunday, though he was afforded a generous half-hour with which to impress his manager. Although he was busy, and got his fair share of chances at Stamford Bridge, he could not secure a confidence-boosting goal. Unsurprisingly, he was a million miles away from his sharpest and it is difficult to envisage how he'll get up to speed, with competition for places so fierce.

    Kalidou Koulibaly:

    Fans have been crying out for January signing Benoit Badiashile to make his Chelsea debut in recent weeks - and this weekend they finally got their wish. The out-of-form Koulibaly was the man who made way, and the former's immediate gelling with Thiago Silva might suggest that the summer signing from Napoli will find it challenging to force his way back into the side.

  • Badiashile-Chelsea-Zaha

    Chelsea Ratings: Defence

    Kepa Arrizabalaga (8/10):

    Recovered well early on to smother Tyrick Mitchell's effort and made two other smart saves before the intervals. Continued to impress throughout.

    Trevoh Chalobah (7/10):

    Much, much better than his performance against Fulham in midweek. Didn't offer all that much going forward, but kept Zaha quiet.

    Thiago Silva (8/10):

    Typically faultless defensively and strode out from the back to drive his often-stagnant side forward.

    Benoit Badiashile (7/10):

    Looked a little nervous on his Chelsea debut but grew into the game very nicely. Sprayed some good passes.

    Lewis Hall (6/10):

    Bombed forward with purpose early on. Execution was lacking on several occasions, and he endured a few sticky defensive moments, but you cannot fault his endeavour.

  • Jorginho-Chelsea-2023

    Midfield

    Conor Gallagher (6/10):

    Took up some intelligent positions and carved out a few good opportunities against his former club. Rattled his ex team-mates at the end too.

    Jorginho (6/10):

    Restored to the side and wore the armband. Broke up play with some sliding tackles and was always barking instructions to his less-experienced team-mates.

    Carney Chukwuemeka (5/10):

    Just didn't influence the game often enough. Competed well but eventually replaced by Aubameyang just after the hour mark.

  • Ziyech-Chelsea-2023

    Attack

    Hakim Ziyech (7/10):

    Showed great skill down the right midway through the first half, and should have had an assist - only to be let down by Havertz. Did eventually create a goal to cap off a promising afternoon.

    Kai Havertz (6/10):

    A few loose touches, didn't hold the ball up well and missed a sitter in the first half. Made up for an underwhelming start by scoring a great header - but should have scored more.

    Mason Mount (6/10):

    Full of running and tried to encourage his team-mates to join him. Not his best game, but not his worst.

  • Potter-Chelsea

    Subs & Manager

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (6/10):

    Positive but more than little rusty in front of goal.

    Kalidou Koulibaly (6/10):
    Did nothing wrong as he helped his side see out the game.

    Mateo Kovacic: (N/A)

    On for a matter of seconds.

    Cesar Azpilicueta: (N/A)

    As above, but made a key clearance.

    Graham Potter (7/10):

    What a relief. Brought Badiashile in to good effect and Aubameyang added something when he came on, even if his cutting edge isn't there yet. Will be mightily relieved.