1. N’GOLO KANTÉ (8.7)
From the lowest rated game for five years to the highest rated game of the season, Chelsea have put in two performances over the span of five days that could not possibly have been any more different.
Was N’Golo Kanté the biggest reason for the difference? I could be convinced.
Welcome back, N’Golo. We missed you something fierce.
2. CÉSAR AZPILICUETA (8.6)
Azpilicueta has not been his supremely consistent self in defence this season just yet — the constant shifting of him from center to right and sometimes even left probably isn’t helping — but he’s now collected five assists on the season. All five of those were for Morata (step aside Fàbregas-to-Costa, it’s time for Azpi-to-Morata), and four of them have now been essentially identical. The cross from deep right, Morata’s forehead, goal. Magic.
That we beat United with this move despite Mourinho specifically drilling for it makes it even sweeter.
“We spoke during the preparation of the match and we spoke again at half-time. We knew the crosses from the middle positions, crosses from the inside, not crosses from the goalline and we know the movement of the strikers, sometimes in front of the defenders, sometimes behind, so that’s exactly what we were speaking [about] in the dressing room. The first team to score in these games normally wins. We conceded a goal in a situation where we should be in control.”
-José Mourinho; source: Manchester United FC
3. EDEN HAZARD (8.5)
Fouls drawn: 6
Take a look at this top three. Take a good look. This is the future and the present. Azpi and Hazard are already two of the longest-serving members of the squad and Kanté is the most indispensable. Conte talks about transition and patience, but if the core plays this well — even when the opponent tries their best to literally kick them out of the game — the sky is the limit. Throw in Courtois, Morata, Christensen, Bakayoko and we’ve 7 of 11 needed for a first-team.
STARTERS: Courtois (8.2), Cahill (7.4), Christensen (8.2), Azpilicueta (8.6), Alonso (7.1), Fàbregas (8.0), Kanté (8.7), Bakayoko (7.8), Zappacosta (7.0), Hazard (8.5), Morata (8.5)
SUBSTITUTES: Rüdiger (7.1), Drinkwater (6.8), Willian (6.5)