Chelsea youngsters sends clear message to Mauricio Pochettino as they blow hot and cold in FA Cup victory
The Blues made a sluggish start against Championship strugglers Preston but eventually clicked into gear
Chelsea ended up cruising to victory in the FA Cup third round against Preston, but the 4-0 win wasn’t as comfortable as it eventually looked.
Armando Broja, Thiago Silva, Raheem Sterling and Enzo Fernandez all scored in an exciting second half for Chelsea, but until the opening goal, it had been a struggle.
Preston created chances and out-battled the Blues but were ultimately out-gunned by the more talented side.
Chelsea are through to the fourth round of the cup in what was ultimately routine fashion, but when the coaching staff rewatch the footage, they will have a lot to think about.
Broja sums up Chelsea
Broja rose brilliantly to nod in Malo Gusto’s in-swinging cross in the 58th minute which changed the match.
Chelsea had struggled badly with Ryan Lowe’s old-school approach involving long balls, a low block and aggression.
In short, Preston did their homework and made Chelsea uncomfortable. Chelsea, meanwhile, were unable to show enough quality during attacking moments to find a goal to change the match.
A cup upset really felt possible, with Broja among those underperforming but his header changed everything.
The striker immediately began threatening with his and Chelsea’s confidence restored. He hit the bar and had a shot cleared off the line within minutes.
Chelsea must also learn to dig in better in the hard times, even if they can produce exciting football when it is going well.
The kids are good enough
When it was bad for Chelsea, one player stood out: Alfie Gilchrist. After two committed substitute appearances, the 20-year-old academy defender earned his first start at Stamford Bridge.
The boyhood Chelsea fan was the only one competing during a poor first half. He put so much into the game that he had to be taken off in the 61st minute but set the tone when Chelsea struggled.
Versatile 17-year-old midfielder Michael Golding also made his debut from the bench. He produced a wonderful flick in midfield with his first touch and almost got on the end of two crosses.
Brazilian teen striker Deivid Washington also made his second appearance for Chelsea and nearly scored an instinctive glancing header.
It shows that if Chelsea continues to suffer such a deep injury crisis, the academy can provide some solutions.
Conor Gallagher is key
Chelsea’s team had a gaping hole in it until Gallagher came on.
The Championship club were able to out-battle Fernandez and Moises Caicedo in midfield as Gallagher was rested alongside Thiago Silva.
It was another bit of evidence to show how important Gallagher is to Chelsea, despite his contract running down and rumours about him potentially leaving the club not going away.