Chelsea started poorly with the vast majority of the first 45 played in our own half. The Blues were simply unable to deal with Barnsley’s energetic high press, and were able to keep possession only with the back-five deep in our own third.
Long balls aside, Chelsea posed little threat. Barnsley did make one mistake, which Gilmour pounced on to release Abraham in the area. The sliding tackle from the defender to prevent the shot looking okay in live time, but replays showed he might have fouled the Chelsea striker instead. But there was no VAR in effect at the Championship stadium, so we played on.
Chelsea created very little beyond that in the first half however, and were lucky to not be behind at the half with Barnsley wasting two glorious opportunities: the first thanks to an excellent save by Kepa early on, the second thanks to their own player who diverted a goal-bound shot wide of the post late on.
Tuchel made a double substitution at the half, and Chelsea came out with a bit more intent and impetus and were at least pushing much higher up the pitch. But the initial push didn’t result in a breakthrough and we settled in for a bit more of the first-half slog.
And then a moment of quality arrived, as Gilmour and James broke lines to play in Abraham for a tap-in. Tammy looked offside, but no VAR to dispute this either, so the goal stood. (Replays shown some time later would end up showing Tammy just onside.)
Chelsea didn’t threaten much after the goal either, but kept Barnsley out as well, thanks in part to a goal-line clearance from Abraham.
Not great but job done.
Sheffield United await in the quarterfinals next month.
- Ten changes for Tuchel, keeping the 3-4-3, with Emerson at LCB and Alonso at left wing-back.
- Half-time switch to a 4-2-3-1, with Emerson-Zouma-Rudiger-James across the back and Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic on the wings, left and right, respectively.
- Anjorin for Ziyech like-for-like, the Kovacic on for Pulisic for the final 10 minutes in more of a 4-3-3 look with Kante the furthest forward central midfielder.
- Abraham with the winning goal, and a goal-line clearance. Extends his team-leading tally of goals to 12 in 28 appearances in all competitions.
- no-VAR taketh away, no-VAR giveth
- pitch as bad as expected
- Next up: Newcastle United at home on Monday