The win gave Chelsea 12 points, a perfect four wins from four, and put them into the next round of the Europa League and meant that Maurizio Sarri has now gone 16 competitive games as Chelsea boss without defeat. What did we learn?
The overall sensation of Chelsea’s win over BATE was that of disappointment. Yes, Chelsea won, but they really had to work for it. The team’s attitude was off from the first minute; the complacency in their minds was clear. And in many ways this is understandable, Chelsea are wholly superior to BATE and have a big game against Everton at the weekend.
This is why the Chelsea XI, which notably included star men Eden Hazard and Jorginho, was a problem. When you play your superstars in a cup game that the side doesn’t truly have an urgent need to win, they will not play with the intense drive and desire they should do.
Sure, Chelsea were better than BATE and when they flexed their muscles they showed that, but by and large BATE found it easy to outdo the Chelsea effort levels and get a foothold in the match. The Belorussian club had the better chances and even hit the woodwork in stoppage time. It was the kind of night where Chelsea playing a less-talented side would have paid dividends as the players would have worked that much harder rather than looking to save themselves for the weekend.
Olivier Giroud won the World Cup without scoring a single goal in the summer. That’s pretty impressive for a striker. Since then, in competitive matches for Chelsea, Olivier Giroud had gone 794 minutes of football without scoring a single goal. That is a colossal amount of time; you could watch The Godfather and The Godfather part II both. Twice.
Sarri makes a promise to Chelsea fans over travelling Eden Hazard
But the handsome Frenchman, who admitted post-match that fatigue from the World Cup perhaps left him lacking “a little efficiency,” showed a nice dose of it against BATE. Emerson sent in a fine cross and Giroud rose elegantly at the near-post, nodding the ball down and into the back of the net. It was a deft touch that owed a little bit to some soft goalkeeping, but much like Alvaro Morata against Vidi in the same competition, it could be exactly what Giroud needs to kick-start his season.
Ross Barkley 5: Poor decision-making throughout as well as slow and sluggish. Maybe played too much football recently? A step backwards for the Englishman.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek battered a hat-trick past BATE at Stamford Bridge. In Borisov, however, he had a much rougher go of things. This is no surprise, it’s obviously harder playing away than at home. But the most frustrating thing for the Englishman must have been how he was removed for Mateo Kovacic just past the hour mark.
Instead of removing (and protecting) Jorginho or Ross Barkley ahead of the weekend, Sarri instead hooked Loftus-Cheek, who is unlikely to feature against Everton. The sub was so disheartening, because why rob the youngster of the chance to play 90 minutes? Sure, he wasn’t playing well, but you never know how he may have reacted in the last 25 minutes!
Yet more confirmation, as though it was needed, that Loftus-Cheek needs to leave Chelsea in January if he is to play regular football.
Eden Hazard has barely played for the last few weeks, suffering from a back injury that has kept him on the sidelines. It’s for this reason that Maurizio Sarri took him all the way to Belarus to play here vs. BATE.
Now, one could make the case that protecting Hazard and restricting his minutes, even recovery minutes, to just the Premier League was a safer approach to a player who has always struggled with fatigue, but the fact is Hazard played and did well.
Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has assured there is nothing to worry about by his decision to field Eden Hazard in their Europa League tie against BATE Borisov on Thursday evening.
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He wasn’t at his free-flowing best, but there were clear signs of his talent slowly waking from its injury-induced slumber. When he was taken off after an hour, he looked fairly pleased with his night’s work. There’s much more to come!
Ethan Ampadu and Callum Hudson-Odoi must wonder what they have to do in order to get a game for Chelsea under Maurizio Sarri. Their continued absence from games in the Europa League group stage makes about as little sense as that time when hatchet-man defender Khalid Boulharouz wore Chelsea’s no. 9 shirt.
“It’s a good thing that people still say we can play better. We are still unbeaten and we have not played at our highest level, because we have been with the coach only two or three months now.
Alright to be fair, Hudson-Odoi plays in Hazard’s position so he was always likely to begin today on the bench as Hazard started. But why, when Hazard went off, was he replaced by Willian and not Hudson-Odoi?
Chelsea heed Liverpools Belgrade woes as Bate Borisov away test beckons
As Sarri himself said: “Willian played four matches in a row so it’s better for Willian to rest and for Eden to play this evening.” So if it’s better he rest, why not let him rest and hand that 30 minute cameo to Hudson-Odoi?? In the end he got on for the last five minutes, which is basically pointless when it comes to development.
“I watched the game, and Liverpool struggled a lot. In Belgrade, the atmosphere is tough. It’s difficult to play there, like it will be here,” he said.
And Ampadu… well there’s two places he could play. Obviously he could play at the base of midfield, where Sarri took his crucial superstar Jorginho because Cesc Fabregas was out with a fever and “we need Jorginho in order to not change our way of football.”
But again, couldn’t Ampadu help Chelsea do that? Wouldn’t that have been a great experience for him? Or maybe play him at the back next to Andreas Christensen? There’s almost nothing gained from Gary Cahill, the former Bolton defender who looks so finished he probably would struggle to get a game for Bolton today.
Overcome by frustration, Sarri, who had suffered with a fever earlier in the day, flew into a temper tantrum on the touchline. He wagged his finger, stomped his feet and his invective flew out into the Belarus night. The specific target of his spleen may have been Hazard but it was crystal clear that Sarri was by now thoroughly fed up of his players collective showing.
Maurizio Sarri may have Chelsea playing nice, attacking football that’s much more pleasing than anything during the Antonio Conte regime. But in the end he seems just as reluctant to give young players their chances as the Blues’ tempestuous former coach.
The conditions, it should be said, were not ideal. But Chelsea would have expected this. Nestled away in the Belorussian woodlands, the elements were never likely to be kind for a winter fixture in Barysaw. Yet the fog was particularly prohibitive on a bitingly cold evening and Chelsea did not seem up for a contest.
Mateo Kovacic has warned Chelsea against complacency when they face BATE Borisov in the Europa League – citing Liverpool’s defeat to Red Star Belgrade of what to expect.
Maurizio Sarri’s side can secure their place as group winners with two matches to spare if they can win the Belarusian capital, but Kovavic – who watched in shock at Liverpool’s defeat to Red Star in Serbia – has warned the Blues to be on their guard.
Chelsea news: Mateo Kovacic fires Liverpool warning ahead of BATE Europa League showdown
The fall-out from Liverpool’s defeat has been that severe this week that Kovacic – on a season-long loan at Stamford Bridge from Real Madrid – hopes the Blues avoid a similar fate.
“The most important thing is we need to be prepared so that what happened to Liverpool doesn’t happen to us.”
BATE v Chelsea lineups: Eden Hazard returns, Olivier Giroud starts
Eden Hazard is expected to feature for Chelsea after making his comeback from a back injury as a substitute at the weekend and Sarri has reassured supporters that he isn’t taking a gamble by playing the influential Belgian in the Europa League clash.
At worst, the Irons would be knocked back again with the article suggesting a loan agreement was plotted in the summer to no avail. On the other hand, there is a chance Loftus-Cheek could step in and ask his Italian coach to step aside in order to get more minutes.
We thought for him its better to play, not for 90 minutes, but to play after two weeks without training.
Loftus-Cheeks impressive display featuring a home hat-trick against BATE Borisov and a goal off the bench against Burnley could now act as the start to his true Chelsea career, or just as another indicator of why teams like West Ham chased his signature.
In the last match he played only for 30 minutes. The best for him is he will play 45, 50 minutes.
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Even though The Mirrors report suggests Sarri is personally blocking the move, Pellegrini and the Hammers board should at least try their luck in making a deal happen in January.