Job done as Chelsea move into the fourth round as Chesterfield give everything
When the lineups were announced for the game and Thomas Tuchel had selected Hakim Ziyech, Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi to start, a comfortable win was expected.
Tuchel hinted on Friday he might go strong for the game and certainly did that, the Blues winning 5-1 after blitzing the non-league visitors Chesterfield to lead 4-0 at the break.
The second half was pretty much a non-event until Akwasi Asante sent the 6,000 visiting fans in the Shed End absolutely bonkers, tapping home into an empty net to make it 5-1 late on.
Chelsea very much took their foot off the gas after the break with all the hard work done in the first half thanks to four different goalscorers as Werner, Hudson-Odoi, Lukaku and Andreas Christensen put the Blues in cruise control.
Tuchel introduced Lewis Baker in the second half for his second Chelsea appearance eight years after his first, Harvey Vale got a run out as well and so did Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Kai Havertz in the second half.
The German head coach said before the game he would not be arrogant with his team selection and he would not be complacent with a side 91 places below them. The gap in class was obvious fairly early on and two goals in two minutes from Hudson-Odoi and Lukaku effectively ended the game as a contest.
But you have to give huge credit to Chesterfield, who were not going to go down without a fight and got their reward ten minutes from time.
Kabongo Tshimanga, who worked tirelessly all game up front, got the better of Malang Sarr and fired a shot off that Marcus Bettinelli, also on debut, could only parry into the path of Asante and he had the simplest task of the all to roll home into an empty net.
The away fans, who brought a wonderful and colourful atmosphere to Stamford Bridge throughout their big day out, rightly went absolutely bonkers and there was applause from the other three sides of the ground as well from the home fans in acknowledgement
Tuchel said after the game: “I am happy with the attitude with how we start. We started strong and well. We decided the match very early and this is what we wanted.
“After the 5-0, we made some changes in crucial positions and had some players who lacked a bit of rhythm and confidence in the position they had to play.
“In the last 15 minutes, I would have liked them to take more chances and be more clinical in finishing but OK. The job is done and we decided the match in the first half which is very good.”
Lewis Hall impresses on debut as the Cobham conveyor belt keeps producing
Against Brentford in the Carabao Cup last month it was Harvey Vale, Xavier Simons and Jude Soonsup-Bell who were handed their senior debuts by Thomas Tuchel.
On Saturday, it was Lewis Hall given his big chance. Having been with the club since the under-8s and turning 17 last September, this was an appearance nine years in the making for the academy graduate.
And boy did he take it, putting in a very accomplished performance and even grabbing an assist as well as he took to senior football with ease.
Speaking to the BBC after the game, Hall said: “Ever since I was a kid being at Chelsea this is what I worked towards. To finally get the opportunity and in front of my family and the amazing fans it is an incredible feeling.
“I came through the development system at six to eight and got my first contract at nine and have been progressing to this moment.
“We had a meeting during the day when he [Thomas Tuchel] announced the team and I was really nervous straight away. I saw my name on the team sheet and I was shaking. It took a few hours to process it.”
It certainly didn’t show as he played the full 90 against Chesterfield and looked incredibly composed and competent throughout.
He also showed great persistence as well. Having lost the ball, he battled hard to win it back near the Chesterfield box, then drove to the byline and squared for Romelu Lukaku to sweep home from close range.
Tuchel didn’t go overboard with his praise for the impressive teenager but he was very happy with what he saw from the 17-year-old.
“”It was his performance in general and his attitude in training,” Tuchel said when asked why he was confident Hall could slot into the back three.
“The quality he showed was very calm and very good in our possession games and the little games he trained in. We never really trained with the full squad so it was more small-sided games but he was good.
“He deserved to start and we needed a pause for Toni (Rudgier), Azpi (Cesar Azpilicueta) and Marcos (Alonso) in defence and that’s why. We had three defenders left and he was one of them. It was very clear what we demand from the players in the position and that helps them.
“It’s a very supportive dressing room and there is supportive attitude from all the more experienced players so this is very good for the young boys.”
Lewis Baker also made an appearance at Stamford Bridge. It was his second appearance for the club and a whopping eight years since he made his full debut.
Thomas Tuchel takes it relatively easy for once
The German head coach is usually constantly prowling the touchline for the full 90 minutes, barking at anyone who can hear him, turning to his assistant Zsolt Low to moan about something not going right or wildly gesticulatng his hands here, there and everywhere.
On Saturday however, he cut a much more relaxed head coach. Perhaps seeing your side go 3-0 up inside half an hour against a team from the fifth tier will do that to you.
If anything, it was Spireites boss James Rowe who assumed the Tuchel role for the game. He didn’t sit down once during the 90 minutes, was always shouting encouragement to his players or giving referee Jarred Gillet a piece of his mind.
Rowe went absolutely berserk with his coaching staff when Asante netted the late consolation for his side and said afterwards that sharing a touchline with Tuchel had been a “fantastic experience” for him.
But, don’t worry, Tuchel still found some time to have a whinge and a moan, even when his side were 5-0 up.
Substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who was the fourth captain of the afternoon for the home side, gave the ball away just inside his own half under little pressure and within shouting distance of Tuchel.
“RUBEN! NO!” shouted the German as he turned around in disgust and started chuntering away to himself and Low.
Tuchel is a perfectionist, that is pretty clear. He didn’t say as much but he would have not been happy to concede that late goal as well to Chesterfield.