As Chelsea overcame Malmo by 2-1 in the first leg of their Europa League round of 32 tie in Sweden last night, I look at the 5 key talking points from this 1st leg in Sweden.
- Barkley improved from his dreadful performance against Manchester City- Ross Barkley had a much better game today, but we have to bear in mind that it was against a lower side like Malmo. It took him a while to click into this 1st leg tie, but in in the 30th minute, a Pedro cross found Barkley who after a poor control finished well past the Malmo goalkeeper to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead in the game.
Barkley did significantly improve in the second half, and if it was for better decision making and finishing- could have scored a few more goals in this game.
The English attacking midfielder also had a big involvement in Chelsea’s second goal which went unnoticed by most Chelsea fans;
2. Giroud had a mixed game- Giroud started off the game very quietly in the first half, but livened up completely in the second half of the match in Sweden. In the 58th minute, Willian’s ball across the six yard area was flicked home by the Frenchman to give Chelsea a 2-0 away lead in Sweden.
However the Frenchman had many chances to add to his tally tonight, but was very wasteful in the final third, and therefore shows again that he is only good enough to be a second striker behind Higuain.
3. Team selection was all wrong today- As 7pm approached, many Chelsea fans expected wholesale changes to the team, but that didn’t happen!
Many Chelsea fans expected to see at least Hudson-Odoi and Ampadu start today, however that was not the case. Hudson-Odoi was on the bench, with Willian and Pedro starting in the wide areas for the Blues tonight.
Hudson-Odoi only made a short cameo off the bench near the end of the game.
Ampadu wasn’t even in the squad tonight!
Christensen came in for Rüdiger, and Emerson replaced Alonso. Kovacic came in the midfield for Kante, and Barkley retained his place, after his disastrous display against City on the weekend.
Luckily the team on the pitch just about got the job done today, however not starting Hudson-Odoi in this game was a disgrace! The only way Sarri can justify that decision now is by starting him against Manchester United in the FA Cup on Monday, but knowing Sarri he will not do that.
Here are some Chelsea fans reactions to Hudson-Odoi not even starting tonight;
4. Job not done yet for the Blues- At 2-0 up for most of the second half, Chelsea looked like cruising through this tie, but in the 80th minute, a Andreas Christensen mistake in the Chelsea defence, led to Anders Christiansen to score to give Malmo a chance in this tie going into the second leg at Stamford Bridge next Thursday.
Chelsea were cruising at 2-0, but were made to pay for not getting the killer third goal which probably would have completely killed the tie off.
However, it is game on going into the second leg next Thursday at Stamford Bridge.
5. A much needed win for the Blues going into a tough run of fixtures- Chelsea really had to win tonight after their 6-0 defeat to Manchester City at the weekend. And even though it was unconvincing, Sarri will hope that this result will give these Chelsea players confidence going into their upcoming games.
They next play on Monday in the FA Cup against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. The Blues then play next Thursday in the second leg of this tie, before the Carabao Cup final next Sunday against Manchester City at Wembley.
Then on the 27th of February face Tottenham in a London derby at home in the Premier League, so nothing gets easy for Sarri anytime soon.
The question is, will he still be in a job, after this upcoming run of games?
A perfect summary of the game here from @terrysazio on Twitter;
Here are the highlights from the game last night;
Keep an eye out for my Manchester United FA Cup Preview this weekend.
By Danyal Khan