Chesterfield midfielder Manny Oyeleke was all praise for Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic after their recent 5-0 drubbing in the FA Cup third round.
Kovacic has been in extraordinary form for Chelsea in recent weeks and has two goals and five assists in 13 Premier League appearances this season. He started during Chelsea’s 2-2 draw against Liverpool and was also on the scoresheet. Kovacic’s ability to consistently drive through midfield with the ball has been on full display in recent matches.
Against Chesterfield, Mateo Kovacic was the club captain on the night and was heavily involved in the first goal. He drove through the heart of Chesterfield’s midfield to set up Hakim Ziyech, whose deflected shot fell to Timo Werner. Manny Oyeleke was especially left in awe of the midfielder and praised him after the game:
"I happened to be up against (Mateo) Kovacic — he is so, so good. He’s so quick on the counter-attack. It’s the little touches and the little runs. He’s really sharp. It was my job to stop him as he was on my side. It was tough but enjoyable seeing him up close and seeing what he does. The little no-looks (passes). He was probably only in second gear as well which lets you know how high the levels are."
Chelsea find their mojo in time for Premier League clash against Manchester City
The Blues have had a few hiccups in recent weeks. Problems due to Romelu Lukaku airing his frustrations at the club have been accompanied by a consistent injury crisis that has only recently begun to get better. Chelsea was also dealing with multiple key absentees due to the COVID-19 complications and drew against title rivals Liverpool.
The recent mixed form has led to the Blues currently 10 points adrift of Manchester City at the top of the table. However, the race for the title is hardly over. Chelsea will be looking to trim down the lead to seven points when they take on City on January 15th at the Etihad.
They have won their last two games and would have been especially proud of the manner in which they blew away Chesterfield. The Blues had a whopping 80% of overall possession and 24 attempts. They scored four times in the first half and ended up bringing on multiple young players in the second.
Thomas Tuchel in recent weeks had been criticized for being overtly defensive. This is something that can be put down to the sheer number of absentees that he has had to deal with. The London side were missing N’Golo Kante along with Kovacic and Ruben-Loftus Cheek, with Jorginho also dealing with a back injury.
However, Lukaku returned against Chesterfield and multiple attackers have found form in recent matches as well. With all of their players now available, there is no team that the Blues will not be optimistic about facing, in the course of the season.