Mykhailo Mudryk scored his first Chelsea goal to help the Blues end their wait for an away win in the Premier League.
Chelsea have been terrible on the road in 2023, winning just two of their 13 prior to Monday’s game. But this form hasn’t been restricted to this year alone, with Chelsea losing 11 of their 21 away matches in the Premier League since the start of last season.
Mudryk hasn’t had the best of years either. The subject of a transfer battle over the Christmas period, Mudryk looked set to join Arsenal but in the end Chelsea outbid their London rivals, bringing the Ukrainian to Stamford Bridge.
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After impressing on debut against Liverpool, Mudryk struggled to find a spot in a Chelsea team that needed a player of his ability. He ended the 2022/23 campaign without a goal and only two assists in 15 Premier League appearances, starting seven times.
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The start of the 2023/24 campaign wasn’t much better for Mudryk, as he started the campaign on the bench, with Ben Chilwell Mauricio Pochettino’s preferred option at left-wing. Mudryk finally got his first Premier League start of the campaign against Bournemouth but was part of a Chelsea attack that failed to score a goal. There was a repeat in the 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa, which probably went some way to explaining Mudryk’s stats in his overall rating for EAFC 24.
Despite rising from 74 to 75 overall, Mudryk wasn’t happy with any of his ratings when shown his Ultimate Team card.
“No, I don’t like it,” he said.
When asked which ones he thinks are wrong, he replied, “Everything!”
For some, there was a lot of pressure of Mudryk to get involved among the goals, yet to score or create this season. And while it wasn’t forthcoming, Pochettino asked for a bit of patience.
“Trust me, Mudryk is really making a massive effort to try to integrate himself,” Pochettino told reporters.
“He’s trying to understand better what it means to play like a team but he is young.
“For sure he is going to improve. We are so happy with how he is improving.”
His sentiment was echoed by Frank Lampard, who managed Chelsea at the end of last season, working with Mudryk. Given more time to watch Mudryk than many others, Lampard insisted that the Ukrainian was a good finisher, perhaps struggling as any young player moving to a new league would.
“Pace is a huge strength, and actual technical ability when he dribbles, and his finishing,” he told Sky Sports.
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“We used to train a lot and he’s a compulsive finisher, in a positive way, he’s out after training, he wants to shoot, he wants to cut in. Very good finisher.
“And I know we haven’t seen that yet in the Premier League but again you have to come back and say this young boy has moved into the Premier League, and it’s obviously different. End product, could it be better? Possibly yeah, but it’s typical for a young player.”
Mudryk started against Fulham and had a couple of opportunities to test the Fulham defence, missing the target with a shot and not quite getting things right on a few other occasions. But 18 minutes into the match, he had his moment.
After 24 appearances, Mykhailo Mudryk has scored his first goal for Chelsea. ?
— Squawka Live (@Squawka_Live) October 2, 2023
The move started with Moises Caicedo’s long ball into Levi Colwill, finding the English defender in space. Colwill’s pass into Mudryk was pinpoint, just evading Issa Diop, with the Ukrainian taking it down on his chest. Unfazed by Bernd Leno racing out at him, Mudryk’s finish was cool, through the goalkeeper’s legs to open the scoring and break his duck.
You could see the happiness and relief on his face, with Mudryk playing with more confidence after scoring. Chelsea grew in confidence, too, and 82 seconds later it was 2-0 as Cole Palmer picked up a poor pass from Tim Ream, whose eventual attempted clearance rebounded in off Armando Broja.
This was Chelsea’s earliest 2-0 lead in the Premier League since April 2022, and it was also just the fifth time they have scored at least two on the road since the start of last season.
Chelsea managed to hold onto the 2-0 win after a tighter second half, but it wasn’t all positive as Mudryk was taken off at half time, bringing fears of an injury. The Ukrainian had 16 touches in the first half, five in the opposition box, winning two duels with one tackle to go with his two shots and one goal.
Sky Sports confirmed that Mudryk suffered a slight injury at the top of his thigh, but Chelsea don’t expect it to be too serious.
Pochettino said: “He was doing well, unlucky that at half time he felt something in his quad. But [we] hope that it’s not a big issue and he’ll be ready for Saturday.”