Carlo Cudicini praised the performance of two-goal Alvaro Morata, as well as providing an update on Ruben Loftus-Cheek's injury, as he assessed today's FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest.
The Blues are through to the FA Cup fourth round after comfortably overcoming Nottingham Forest at Stamford Bridge this afternoon as Morata scored twice in the second half to secure a 2-0 victory.
There were plenty of positives for the Blues, including Morata’s return to goalscoring form and the performance of Callum Hudson-Odoi, who provided both assists for the Spaniard.
More concerning was an injury sustained by Loftus-Cheek, who was replaced by Eden Hazard just before half-time.
Cudicini, assistant to head coach Maurizio Sarri, provided his assessment of the afternoon’s events, starting with the performance of Morata.
‘I think Alvaro played an important part in today’s performance, he was very good in terms of working for the team, offensively but mainly defensively,’ said Cudicini. ‘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 so hopefully it will be good for his morale that he scored, and hopefully he will be more free in his mind.
‘Gianfranco Zola mentioned in the press conference before the match that for a striker it’s difficult when you go through a spell when you don’t score many goals, so his body language was a bit down, but in training he’s working very hard and we all knew that sooner or later he would be able to turn the corner and start scoring goals. Thankfully he did it today, it was very important because we really care about this competition and we want to do well.
‘He has all the possibilities to do that,’ Cudicini added, when asked if Morata should set himself a big target in terms of goals for the season. ‘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.
‘I think everyone is different. Some players are perhaps more affected by criticism they receive but for us the most important thing is that he’s training hard and he wants to improve. Performance-wise, on top of the goals it was very important he did a fantastic job for the team, that’s our concern.’
Cudicini confirmed that Loftus-Cheek was withdrawn due to a back problem
‘Yes it is. We are very sorry for the kid to be honest. His impact on the games he played so far has been very good. Even today I feel he was contributing very much so it’s a pity. It’s something that is affecting him and something we need to look at resolving. Obviously it’s been going on for a while and now he will probably have to stop for a bit to try to resolve it. As I said, it’s a pity because he’s doing very well this season.’
He also spoke about the impressive performance of Hudson-Odoi
‘He did very well, it was a very good performance, as we say in Monaco a 360 performance. Two assists and he worked very hard defensively. Even when we had a few problems in midfield with Ampadu, he was running for two. 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.’
Cesc Fabregas captained the side and missed a first-half penalty. The Spaniard appeared emotional when he was substituted late on and Cudicini was asked if today was his last game for the club
‘We don’t know, I personally don’t know. If it was his last game I think it was very good he played in front of his fans and he was able to get a nice reception, but as I said we don’t know so I’m not able to comment. He was captain a few times in pre-season when Cahill and Azpi weren’t there. He’s not the first and won’t be the last to miss a penalty. It’s something I think I have some knowledge on and the keeper did quite well.
‘What can I say about Cesc? Five-hundred games, a player who is unique in his position, he has unbelievable vision and awareness of where his team-mates are on the pitch. He’s one of the few who has the ability to play that ball for the runs behind the defensive line, so precise and with the right timing. I think he’s one of a kind. He’s been fantastic for teams before us and the contribution he’s given to this club and this team has been amazing. Cesc is a top player.’