Chelsea made it three wins in a row under new boss Thomas Tuchel thanks to a narrow 2-1 victory away at Sheffield United‘s Bramall Lane. The victory sees the Blues climb into fifth place alongside West Ham United on 39 points.
It was a hard-fought game in cold conditions and it took a moment of magic from Mason Mount to break the deadlock, the in-form attacking midfielder displaying clever movement and an even better finish to convert Timo Werner’s cut-back.
Sheffield United drew level against the run of play — and somewhat fortuitously — when Antonio Rudiger passed the ball into his own net. However, the Blades weren’t level for long; Jorginho converting from the spot following Aaron Ramsdale’s foul on Timo Werner.
Chelsea held on thanks to Rudiger recovering from his earlier mistake to contribute two key blocks.
Timo Werner has been criticised for his form, or lack of it, this season but Tuchel will be delighted with the German’s energy. Werner looked lively throughout, had a hand in both goals, and was in the running for Man of the Match with a confidence-boosting display. Also, Chelsea also closed the out game effectively, which showed excellent game management.
The Blues struggled to find a way past United’s high line and it was hard to see where a goal would come from until Mount’s moment of magic.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Thomas Tuchel started with a 3-4-3 formation and utilised Ben Chilwell and Reece James on the flanks. Chilwell was extremely effective going forward, though he left gaps at the back. Tuchel also seems to be getting the best out of Mason Mount and Timo Werner. This was a gritty win, a game Chelsea may well have lost or drawn under Frank Lampard.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Edouard Mendy, 5 — The Senegalese goalkeeper had very little to do and looked good for an 11th clean sheet… until a moment of madness saw him rush out and watch in horror as Antonio Rudiger’s back pass went past him and into the net.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 5 — A frustrating performance from Azpilicueta who often ran into pockets of space but then passed the ball sideways to slow Chelsea’s attack. He looked comfortable on the ball until he got into decisive areas.
DF Andreas Christensen, 5 — Christensen came on to replace the injured Thiago Silva and Chelsea’s defence looked shakier for it. His partnership with Rudiger didn’t inspire confidence, particularly when up against United’s high press.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 6 — Rudiger had looked solid until a calamitous moment when, as Sheffield United broke into the area, he passed the ball into his net past the onrushing Mendy. Luckily, he was bailed out moments later when Chelsea retook the lead. And to be fair to him, he also made two key blocks later on.
MF Reece James, 6 — Playing as a right wing-back, James went about his business quietly and effectively. He didn’t always make the right decision on the ball, but he was solid and always looked to get forward.
MF Jorginho, 6 — The 29-year-old was beaten far too easily at times in the middle and, on one occasion, caused Christensen to give away a free kick in a dangerous area. However, he held his nerve to score the winning goal from the spot; his penalty well taken.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 6 — Kovacic played a delightful through ball to Werner inside the opening 10 minutes but this was a typical Kovacic performance; he did everything well in the middle of the park but then let himself down in the final third, either with a wayward pass or poor shot.
MF Ben Chilwell, 7 — Chilwell should probably have done better when he had a free header following a Mount free kick early on. He made some good attacking runs down the left-hand side and played a delightful ball to Werner in the build-up to the opening goal.
FW Mason Mount, 8 — Mount linked well with those around him and got between the lines to cause the home side problems. He showed excellent movement to open the scoring, converting into the bottom corner on the stroke of half-time.
FW Olivier Giroud, 4 —The Frenchman was largely anonymous and he was forced to drop deeper to try and get into the game. He had a tough battle with John Egan before limping off in the second half.
FW Timo Werner, 8 — The German’s movement was impressive all evening, particularly cutting in from the flanks, and he contributed to both Chelsea’s goals. First, he cut the ball back for Mount to score the first, and then he was brought down for Chelsea to retake the lead from the spot.
MF Marcos Alonso, 6 — Looked confident when he came on although it wasn’t always clear where he was playing! Sometimes found himself in the false 9 position.
MF Callum Hudson-Odoi, 7 — Hudson-Odoi linked up well with James and Mount and, as well as looking dangerous going forward, he showed great willingness to cover in defence. Some of his passing was excellent.
MF N’Golo Kante, N/R — The Frenchman had a great chance to shoot late on but instead opted to pass and the attack broke down. Solid in the middle.