It was a comfortable 2-0 win, Alvaro Morata scored a brace and Chelsea are through to the fourth round of the FA Cup.
So why does it feel like it was a bad day?
Well, Ruben Loftus-Cheek couldn’t even make it to halftime with his sore back. That leaves the cupboard almost bare of healthy forwards.
Álvaro Morata didn’t celebrate either goal and when he left late in the second half he went straight down the tunnel, forever an inconsolable man. And Cesc Fàbregas just played his last game for Chelsea.
It was an afternoon of mixed emotions.
After the match, Carlo Cudicini, speaking in place of flu-stricken Gianfranco Zola (who normally sits in for Maurizio Sarri) tried his best to explain what’s going on inside the head of Morarta.
“I think he played an important part of the performance. He worked hard for the team, offensively and defensively. It was very important for him to score two goals. We were pleased with his performance, but even when he didn’t score. Hopefully he will be more free in his mind.
“I think Gianfranco mentioned before the match that it is difficult when you score goals. He is working hard in training and we knew that he could turn a corner and score goals. We want to do well in this competition.
“He has the possibility to score 20 goals, he is a great striker and I am sure he can do that. Sometimes everyone is different. Players can be more affected by the critics they can have. It is important he is training hard, the performance on top of the goals was important.”
In terms of the match itself, Chelsea dominated possession, with only rare flurries from Nottingham Forest, who were clearly out of their league, both literally and figuratively.
But Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s forced substitution in the 43rd minute is a bad break for Chelsea, who are desperately short of forwards, and for Ruben himself, who had a chance to get regular playing time.
Cudicini confirmed that it’s his back that’s giving him problems once again and that he might be out for a while.
“Yes. We are very sorry for the kid. His impact for the games that he played so far, even today I feel he was contributing very much It is a pity. It is something we need to resolve and maybe he might have to stop for a bit to resolve. He is doing very well.”
I asked Loftus-Cheek in the mixed zone how he’s feeling: “Not good, not good” #cfc https://t.co/sTZ5cozzAh— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) January 5, 2019
Callum Hudson-Odoi sparkled on the the left, where he started, and then on the right after Eden Hazard came on in the second half. He provided the assist for both goals. His runs were incisive and his crosses dangerous.
“He did very well, a 360 performance. He worked very hard, he was running for two, his commitment was great. You want him to have performances like that to put doubts in Maurizio’s mind.”
Even Forest fans recognized his quality, paying him the high compliment of throwing a food product (a burger, maybe?) at him in the first half.
did.. did a Forrest fan throw a hamburger at CHO? wtf?? pic.twitter.com/L4ENoVeX2b— amadí (@amadoit__) January 5, 2019
With Cesc Fabregas apparently on his way out, Gary Cahill held back for possibly the same reason (Cudicini demurred when asked to comment on his status) and CHO’s future in doubt, the January window looks like it will be busy for Chelsea, if only because players are leaving.
Oh, and Tottenham are looming on Tuesday in the Carabao Cup.