There was to be no giant-killing at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, as the Blues put in a thoroughly professional job to see off National League side Chesterfield in the FA Cup third round.
Thomas Tuchel showed plenty of respect to our lower league visitors, and to the competition itself, by naming a strong side and here we take a closer look at the match statistics and talking points…
Tuchel stated in his pre-match press conference that there are ‘no such things as an easy game in football’ and explained that he would respect Chesterfield and the oldest cup competition in club football.
He certainly backed that statement up with the side he selected, with a very strong starting XI named. Only Lewis Hall had previously not tasted senior football, while Marcus Bettinelli was the other not to have featured for Chelsea before.
The Blues completely controlled the contest, enjoying 80 per cent of the possession and recording a huge 24 shots at Scott Loach in the Spirerites goal.
11 of those were on target, with five finding the net as we safely booked our passage into the next round.
Not only did we pepper the Chesterfield goal but what was interesting was that the efforts were being shared out throughout the team and coming from all areas of the pitch.
We had five different goalscorers – four of which came in the first half – and that almost became six when Kai Havertz turned home Werner’s cross, before seeing the flag raised for the former and the goal being chalked off.
That was the first time we have scored five goals in an FA Cup match since February 2016 against Manchester City, a game which also saw five different scorers on that occasion too.
Hall makes history
Lewis Hall was handed his Chelsea debut by Tuchel and the 17-year-old certainly didn’t look out of place among the more senior star names alongside him.
Hall, who is a versatile left-sided player, was selected at left centre-back and formed part of a defensive line with Christensen and Malang Sarr.
The youngster was solid defensively – making two strong tackles and winning four of his aerial duels - but it was his composure on the ball and attacking intent that really caught the eye, most notably his rampaging run and assist for Lukaku’s goal.
Hall becomes the youngest Chelsea player to start an FA Cup game for the club, aged just 17 years and 122 days – that’s three days younger than the previous holder of that record, Ethan Ampadu, when he started against Norwich at the same stage of the competition in 2018.
Three other Chelsea players were younger when they played their first FA Cup game but all entered the action as substitutes. They were Michael Woods [16 years, 275 days v Macclesfield in 2007], Hudson-Odoi [17 years, 82 days v Newcastle in 2018] and Ray Wilkins [17 years, 113 days v QPR in 1974].
Worth the wait
A little, but certainly significant, footnote to this tie was the introduction of Lewis Baker as a second-half substitute, coming on for his second Chelsea appearance – over eight years after his first. The midfielder has been contracted to the Blues throughout that time.
The Academy graduate entered the action in place of another of the Cobham production line in Christensen, slotting in at right centre-back. It’s not a position he is unfamiliar with, having featured there in pre-season and in some PL2 games.
The appearance was Lewis’s first for the Blues since appearing against Derby County in 2014, which was also an FA Cup third round tie, eight years and three days ago.
After two consecutive FA Cup final defeats, could this be third time lucky for the Blues?
It’s still early days and no one inside the Chelsea camp will be getting carried away, but the last time we led a game by four or more goals at half-time was against Hull City – again in this competition – back in February 2018.
We would go on, of course, to win the competition later that season thanks to Eden Hazard’s winner against Manchester United in the final. Dare to dream?