Football Features

“This is only the start” – Player ratings as Chelsea survive early assault to devastate Aston Villa with a Lukaku brace

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 19:50, 11 September 2021

In an open evening of football, Chelsea struggled but still beat Aston Villa 3-0.

Romelu Lukaku and Mateo Kovacic both scored their first goals at Stamford Bridge as the Blues rode waves of early pressure to strike clinically and walk away with a valuable three points.

Here’s how the players rated at Stamford Bridge:


Chelsea

Edouard Mendy – 8 – Colossal. Every time his defence evaporated in front of the Villa forwards, Mendy appeared as a rock solid barrier.

Trevoh Chalobah – 8 – Really impressive when dealing with the Villa incursions. Continues to make a case for more minutes.

Thiago Silva – 7 – A mix of sublime and subpar. Played poorly for the most part, with his lack of movement and spatial awareness being ruthlessly exposed by some Villa passing and movement, especially in the first-half. Paradoxically preserved Chelsea’s lead with a remarkable clearance off the line when Mendy had been beaten (and of his game-high four blocks).

Antonio Rudiger – 8 – Antonio Rudiger played a game of football so how do you think it went? Rugged and raw and impenetrable. Set the tone and was probably the only Chelsea defender who could truly handle McGinn.

Callum Hudson-Odoi – 7 – A solid performance up and down the flanks.

Mateo Kovacic – 8 – A sensational burst from midfield, dancing through challenges before playing a phenomenal pass behind the defence, led to Chelsea’s opener. Another surge saw him score the second goal of the game with a simply stupendous finish from a tight angle. Was far more dominant than he has been in a Chelsea shirt, truly flying box-to-box and providing pressure in defence and attack.

Saul – 4 – Will need time to get up to speed in the Premier League. Couldn’t get to grips with the pressure of the Villa midfield and didn’t win a single one of his 7 ground duels in the first-half. Was hooked at the break.

Marcos Alonso – 7 – Not at his most lethal but still useful.

Hakim Ziyech – 6 – Wasn’t the hub of everything as he usually is, but still played reasonably.

Kai Havertz – 6 – A quiet evening for the German.

Romelu Lukaku – 8 – Wasn’t rampaging over the Villa defence like he did Arsenal but was a constant presence all evening and scored the opening and closing goals. His first a delightful turn and neat finish, his second a piledriver from distance. There is terrifying potential for Lukaku in this Chelsea side with the way they play on the break. Three goals in three games is good but you sense this is only the start.

Substitutes:

Jorginho (for Saul 46′) – 7 – Came on for the wayward Saul and immediately helped stem the constant flow of Villa attacks.

Cesar Azpilicueta (for Havertz 64′) – 7 – Just kept things moving until he produced a brilliant last second assist for Lukaku.

Timo Werner (for Hudson-Odoi 82′) – n/a – Came on late.


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Aston Villa

Jed Steer – 7 – Played reasonably well. Had little chance

Ezri Konsa – 8 – Really impressive at the back, shutting down Chelsea over and over. Didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.

Axel Tuenzebe – 4 – Defended well for the most part but got put in a blender by Lukaku for the goal. Had no idea where the striker was and then fall flat on the floor from a simple shot fake. That goal turned the game and it was Tuanzebe’s fault.

Tyrone Mings – 4 – Another mostly decent display was blighted by a bafflingly bad backpass that sold Jed Steer short and allowed Chelsea to take total control of a game they had really struggled in.

Matty Cash – 7 – Really did well to prevent Chelsea from gaining ground down his flank.

Jacob Ramsey – 7 – The young Villa midfielder did really well to combat the Chelsea midfield and help create chances.

Douglas Luiz – 6 – A solid defensive performance but wasted so many good attacks with wayward shots.

John McGinn – 8 – A majestic performance from McGinn. Did not deserve to be on the losing side at all. Outfought the entire Chelsea midfield with a team-high 4 tackles and countless driving attacks both with and without the ball. Put the ball on a plate for Watkins only for the forward to miss and constantly drove Villa forward, creating a game-high 4 chances.

Matt Targett – 5 – Did fairly well but struggled to impact in attack without Jack Grealish.

Danny Ings – 5 – Fought hard. Blew a great chance to put Watkins 1-v-1.

Ollie Watkins – 4 – Movement off the scale fluid (he completed a game-high 5 dribbles) but his use of the ball was so sloppy and lacking the bite necessary to hurt Chelsea. Wasted some great chances, none moreso than when he rounded Edouard Mendy and shot at Thiago Silva on the line (instead of, say, burying the shot earlier). He has to do better if Villa are to progress.

Substitutes:

Leon Bailey (for Ramsey 56′) – 5 – Never caught the rhythm of the game.

Bertrand Traore (for Ings 69′) – 6 – Carried the ball brightly but couldn’t hurt the Blues.

Marvelous Nakamba (for Douglas Luiz 80′) – n/a – Came on late.

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