It may have been a dead rubber, but what started as a dull affair had turned into a stormer by the end. The bare facts are that Chelsea drew 2-2 at Vidi, finished the group stage unbeaten, but lost the bid to match the record for group stage clean sheets and number of victories. More importantly, we also feared we’d lost Álvaro Morata to a serious knee injury.
Only one player, Willian, started both this match and the Manchester City game. With ten changes, Chelsea performed in the disjointed, error-strewn, ineffectual manner one might expect.
Maurizio Sarri was not too pleased with that, even if Chelsea responded better to going behind than we did just a few days ago away to Wolves.
“We made a lot of mistakes from the tactical point of view. I am happy with the character and reaction from the second goal. From the tactical point of view we made a lot of mistakes. We lost a lot of ball, can manage it better at the end.“
Ethan Ampadu, getting his first start of the season and only his second appearance, headed in an own goal off of a Vidi corner kick just two minutes after a Willian free-kick gave Chelsea the lead. It was an unfortunate lapse for a player who otherwise had a good game.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, making his fourth Europa League appearance and second start, had a tepid first half playing on the right side. When Pedro came on for Willian in the 56th minute, though, he switched to the left, stayed wide and gave Chelsea’s attack a much sharper edge.
“The own goal is not the fault of Ampadu. We were zonal marking. When an opponent touches a ball at first it is difficult. I think he played a very good match You need to consider if you play Ampadu in the usual team it is easier for him. It is not easy for him with so many changes.
“I am pleased with him and Callum. They need to improve in every way, tactically, but they are in the right way.”
-Maurizio Sarri; Source: football.london
Álvaro Morata wrenched his knee late in the first half and never came back on. In an otherwise meaningless game, it may become one of the most significant events in Chelsea’s season, with seven games looming in the next three weeks.
But Sarri had good news, it wasn’t as serious as it looked — of course he said the same things about Pedro’s shoulder and Hazard’s various knocks, before they both missed several games, if not weeks.
Sarri says he doesn't think the injury Alvaro Morata picked up is too serious, but we will find out more tomorrow. #VIDIvCFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 13, 2018
We can look at this meaningless match and count the draw as a win simply by giving the likes of Ampadu and Hudson-Odoi more experience, and giving others some much needed rest ahead of the hectic festive period. First up will be Brighton, away, on Sunday, where character will be needed once again, alongside zero mistakes.