Chelsea beat Walsall 4-1 in the Capital One Cup with Kenedy getting on the score sheetChelsea started their Capital One Cup defence with a trip to the West Midlands, facing League One outfit Walsall. It was a throughly accomplished performance from the holders as they held off spirited Walsall to book a match with Stoke in the next round. The Blues have now made it three wins out of three, scoring ten goals and conceding one.Ramires opened the scoring with a simple header before setting up Loic Remy to power Chelsea into a two-goal lead. Walsall briefly threatened to stage a comeback, not unlike one staged by Bradford last season when they pulled a goal back and attacked. However, Kenedy restored Chelsea’s two-goal cushion with his first goal for the club after brilliant play from Mikel and the impressive Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Pedro also came off the bench to score towards the end.This match signified a home-coming of sorts for Walsall’s Milan Lalkovic, back to his former club. Papy Djilobodji also came on late in the game to mark his Chelsea debut. me>
#1 Loic Remy could benefit from Diego Costa\'s suspension
Following the 3-match suspension of Diego Costa, Jose Mourinho opted to give both Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy a chance to prove themselves. Falcao started up top while Remy played on the right flank.
Falcao showed great movement and positioning off the ball to get into good positions but he kept fluffing his lines. He miscontrolled a few good passes which could have led to good chances and he had two one-on-ones that were cleared off the line.
The Colombian striker also missed another great chance late in the game when he slipped while taking a free kick. It just wasn’t his night, though he could still have a role to play this season if his finishing improves.
On the other hand, Remy has most likely played himself into getting the nod on the trip to Newcastle this weekend. He made some good driving runs and doubled Chelsea’s lead with a fine run and a thumping finish. The French international also came close on a number of occasions as his pace and trickery was too much for the Walsall defence.
Costa and Falcao both haven’t had an ideal start to the season and that may pave the way for Remy to get ahead in the competition for the lone striker role.
#2 Branislav Ivanovic still has troubles
Branislav Ivanovic has endured a truly torrid start to the season. His lack of pace has really hurt him this season as teams frequently target him as the weakest link in the Chelsea rearguard. Many Chelsea fans wanted Jose Mourinho to bench Ivanovic, but the Portuguese manager stuck with him against Arsenal. The Serb rewarded his faith with a much-improved performance at the weekend and retained his place for this tie against Walsall.
Despite getting forward on many occasions, Ivanovic faced a lot of problems from former Blue Milan Lalkovic. The biggest troubling point was when he made an error and then attempted to make up for it by giving away a free kick around 30 yards from goal. Lalkovic’s free-kick was parried but O’Connor was there score the rebound. Walsall mostly threatened down his side and Ivanovic is not completely out of the woods yet.
Last weekend, Mourinho claimed Baba Rahman was “not ready for Premier League football”. Rahman had one or two jitters tonight defensively as well but got forward to good effect. The presence of a left-footer at left-back instead of Cesar Azpilicueta certainly adds a new dimension to the team and the Chelsea attacks look much more fluid.
#3 Ruben Loftus-Cheek is really stepping up
Ruben Loftus-Cheek was the most impressive player on the pitch last week when Chelsea trounced Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the UEFA Champions League. The youngster’s composure and confidence belied his age for someone making his first start in the Champions League. After the game, Mourinho was thrilled with his performance before explaining he still needs to build up his fitness (he was substituted because of a cramp).
After sitting out in the weekend against Arsenal, Loftus-Cheek started again and dominated proceedings. Charging through the midfield to set up Kenedy early on was just a sign of things to come from the promising midfielder. Dictating the play throughout with a display that had both power and accuracy, Loftus-Cheek’s highlight was a superb one-touch pass to set up Kenedy for the third goal.
Cesc Fabregas had a much improved performance last weekend against Arsenal but if he fails to build on it, Loftus-Cheek could potentially be in line for league starts in a similar fashion to Kurt Zouma last year who went from starting in cup games at this time to facing Sergio Aguero in a must-not-lose game at Stamford Bridge by February.
#4 Milan Lalkovic impresses on his return
Despite saying pre-match that he had “nothing to prove” against his former club, Milan Lalkovic certainly looked like a man on a mission in what he tweeted for an almost dream match (he wanted it at Stamford Bridge).
Testing Ivanovic throughout, he first put in a dangerous cross that Cook just couldn’t get his header on before taking on and beating Ivanovic and hitting the side netting. He lifted the team and the home crowd to Walsall’s best spell in the game which culminated with a goal.
Given a testing free-kick from nearly 30 yards out, Lalkovic took a powerful shot that swerved and wrong-footed Asmir Begovic. The Bosnian goalkeeper just about managed to keep it out, but O’Connors was on hand to score the rebound.
Walsall have had a decent start to the season, currently second in League One, and will be keen to take some positives from their elimination.
#5 Kenedy adds to Chelsea\'s depth on the wings
Kenedy burst on the scene for Chelsea after impressing in a pre-season game for Barcelona. Jose Mourinho ultimately chose him over Victor Moses, Chelsea’s best player in pre-season, for the first team. Kenedy has certainly repaid the faith placed in him by his manager by impressing every time he steps on the pitch. He has wanted the ball at all times and constantly drives at the opposition.
Kenedy first got behind the defence in the 4th minute, with a testing cross that arguably should have seen a goal. He then showed his physical strength to steal the ball of Paul Downing and sprinted past him. With a number of options in the box, Kenedy chose the right one with an inch-perfect pass to Ramires for the opening goal.
He was also on hand later to track back and clear a scramble in the Chelsea box. His night was capped off by a great debut goal, where some wonderful interplay behind him saw him finish immaculately with his weaker right foot before being subbed off to great applause.
Chelsea have Eden Hazard, Pedro (who scored a great goal late on as well) and Willian ahead of Kenedy to play on the wings as well as young Bertrand Traore (an unused substitute) fighting for two slots. Even if it is unlikely Kenedy can establish a first team role right now, he can easily be an impact-sub this season.