NB. Sort of forgot about this game; in fairness, so did the players. Anyway...
1. KEPA ARRIZABALAGA (6.5)
Kepa was probably always likely to rotate in for this game, being one of our easier Champions League group stage matches, at least on paper (and with only one domestic Cup match scheduled before the World Cup overall), but given Édouard Mendy’s form, nagging injuries, and seemingly flagging confidence, it turned into not only an obvious choice but a potential audition as well given what’s happened since. Graham Potter loves to involve his goalkeeper in build-up and passing, and that just might be Kepa’s music.
Of course, it’s easy to forget why Kepa lost his starting spot in the first place, with shortcomings — emphasis on short — that are not likely to be fixed even now. His save on the long-shot looked good, but a taller goalkeeper doesn’t have to produce a spectacular effort to make that same save. And his choice on the 1-v-1 for the game’s only goal was not ideal.
Over his 4 years at #Chelsea #Kepa has often struggled with 1v1s & he got another one wrong tonight.— John Harrison (@Jhdharrison1) September 6, 2022
By rushing so early he made #Orsic’s job far easier, my 1v1 model finds by rushing so soon he turned a 39% chance into a 62% chance!#UCL #ChampionsLeague pic.twitter.com/RE83gJlEeo
That’s not to say that he’s to blame for this result; furthest from it. (Few of our choices that night were good, let alone ideal.) Potter will make his call, and it’s noteworthy that he’s brought with him his own goalkeeper coach, Ben Roberts (who, incidentally, played against Chelsea for Middlesbrough in the 1997 FA Cup final!).
2. REECE JAMES (5.8)
“Reecey” was one of the first players to post a thank you note on social media for Tuchel, and while it’s not a race — Thiago Silva was the last, but also the most heartfelt and heart-wrenching by far — he’s been perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Tuchel’s time in charge among the squad. James blossomed into the best in the world at his position, a position that was of utmost importance to Tuchel’s tactics. He rose to the challenge, and then stepped above and beyond it, and we all reaped the rewards from that.
3. MATEO KOVAČIĆ (5.4)
Kova’s homecoming probably didn’t go down as he might have imagined, but hopefully he can stay fit now, avoid surgery, and maybe use these unexpected breaks in the schedule to get fully healthy.
vs. DINAMO ZAGREB (CL, A, L 0-1)
EXCEPTIONAL (9.0+): —
EXCELLENT (8.0-8.9): —
GOOD (7.0-7.9): —
AVERAGE (6.0-6.9): Arrizabalaga (6.5)
POOR (5.0-5.9): James (5.8), Kovačić (5.4), Chilwell (5.2)
BAD (4.0-4.9): Broja (4.9, sub), Fofana (4.8), Cucurella (4.7, sub), Havertz (4.6), Sterling (4.5), Jorginho (4.5, sub), Koulibaly (4.4), Azpilicueta (4.0), Aubameyang (4.0)
TERRIBLE (3.0-3.9): Mount (3.7), Pulisic (3.7, sub)
YIKES-YECH (1.0-2.9): Ziyech (2.2, sub)