Chelsea’s Spanish defender Marcos Alonso gestures during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Chelsea at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on July 11, 2020. (Photo by PETER POWELL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Finishing in the top four is no longer in Chelsea’s hands as it failed to show up for the game against Sheffield, here’s how each individual stacked up.
The stage was set, and the ball was in Chelsea’s court. A spot in the Premier League’s top four was in Chelsea’s hands after jumping to third position after the nail-biting win against Crystal Palace. Win three of the four remaining games and secure a spot in next year’s Champions League. Lose and run the risk of losing out on the only competition that attracts the world’s best players—Kai Havertz, for example.
The Blues, and Frank Lampard in particular, were outplayed by Chris Wilder’s resilient and energetic Sheffield United side. In no aspect was Chelsea better than Sheffield and now the Blues face the chance of dropping down to fifth by the time the sun sets on the Sunday. The team got dominated, but how did the players perform on an individual level?
Kepa Arrizabalaga (Goalkeeper): 4
It would be extremely harsh to blame Arrizabalaga for any of the three goals Chelsea conceded against Sheffield. He reacted very well to make a good save which led to the opening goal. The second goal is where fans would probably want to see him attempt to save it instead of watching the ball travel into the net. But even then, McBurnie’s header was powerful and accurate. As for the third goal, well, take your guess for who’s to blame.
Reece James (Right back): 5
James still hasn’t been at his best since the restart of the Premier League. He delivered a couple of good crosses in the first half, but also a few poor ones. Defensively, he showed moments of strength as well as lapses in concentration. His interception from Basham’s pass prevented the scoreline from being even more embarrassing.
Andreas Christensen (Centreback): 2
Another poor display from Christensen, who really should never have started this game. Lampard knows that he is not the strongest in the air and often gets bullied by opponents; yet, he chose to start the Dane against the team that scores almost all its goals from set pieces and crosses. It is no surprise that he was caught out of position for Sheffield’s second goal.
Kurt Zouma (Centreback): 2
Zouma’s first poor game since the restart, and after two phenomenal performances, this was coming. Neither of Chelsea’s centrebacks are good enough to sustain their form and Zouma once again showed that he cannot always be trusted. A lack of communication meant that he was at fault for not picking up the free man for Sheffield’s second goal. He was also unable to react quick enough for the first goal, allowing McGoldrick the chance to get his first ever Premier League goal.
Cesar Azpilicueta (Left back): 5
Nothing much to be said about Azpilicueta. An average performance from him, but he still stands out as Chelsea’s best defender on the night. Offensively though, he was not good enough down the left flank which prompted Lampard to bring on Marcos Alonso at halftime.
Antonio Rudiger (Centreback): 1
Rudiger was brought onto the pitch at halftime, but his absence would have probably benefitted Chelsea more. His attempted clearance for Sheffield’s third and final goal was shambolic, but what was worse was his movement and positioning just prior to the cross. He was too close to Zouma when Sheffield broke, and he forgot his role as the central player of a back three. Realizing his positional blunder, he then sprinted backwards towards the centre of the box which left him off balance for the ‘clearance’. His role as an agent for the club should not mean that he is allowed back onto the pitch anytime soon—the performance was amateur.
Marcos Alonso (Left wing-back): 4
Alonso posed a threat in the box and was brought on to match Sheffield’s shape, as well as stretch their defensive formation. In his 45 minutes on the pitch, he failed to make any real impact from an offensive perspective.