One Man Stars And 5 Things We Learned As Chelsea Fall Flat Against Zenit In Champions League Clash | AfroNaija



 
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One man stars and 5 things we learned as Chelsea fall flat against Zenit in Champions League clash

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One man stars and 5 things we learned as Chelsea fall flat against Zenit in Champions League clash

Chelsea stutter against Zenit

Chelsea’s Champions League campaign stuttered to its conclusion with a 3-3 draw with Russian side Zenit Saint Petersburg.

Already qualified, the Blues knew that a win would see them go through as group winners, and looked to be on course when Timo Werner notched a goal to make it 3-2 ten minutes from time.

Zenit, however, continued to threaten, and bagged a last gasp equaliser courtesy of a wonderful strike in stoppage time.

Here are 5 things 101 picked out from the affair.

Kepa a shining light

If, 12 months ago, you had told the Chelsea faithful that Kepa Arrizabalaga, the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, would be the sole shining light in a Champions League tie, they would have laughed you out of the room.

But for the Spaniard, however, the Blues could have found themselves several goals down, as he prevented at least two seemingly certain goals either side of half time.

With Edouard Mendy in the spotlight for all of the wrong reasons after a poor game against West Ham United, and the Senegalese keeper due to be away from the club for January due to the Africa Cup of Nations, Kepa issued a timely reminder of just why he was so highly-valued in the first place.

Lukaku well off the pace but ends goal drought

It has been a tricky return to London for Romelu Lukaku.

He began life well, netting against Arsenal on his second debut, but has just a brace against Aston Villa since, and had not scored in nine games before tonight.

This was compounded by injury sustained against Malmo, meaning that this runout was his first start since mid-October.

And while he looked incredibly rusty and off the pace, he did nonetheless mark his return with a goal, tapping in after Timo Werner squared the ball to him six yards out.

75 minutes into his legs and a goal will stand him in good stead going forwards, but Chelsea still need to find a way to get more out of their record-signing, who is often a peripheral figure.

Reserve side not up to scratch

Despite the result, one thing was made abundantly clear. Chelsea’s second string XI is simply not up to scratch.

The likes of Ross Barkley and Malang Sarr were up for sale in the summer, only for failures to move them on leaving them at Tuchel’s disposal.

The decision to move Reece James into central midfield was one of necessity, but left him unable to show his evident talent from the middle of the pitch. Saul Niguez also struggled in his role as an auxiliary wing-back.

With gaps needing to be plugged, will Tuchel be able to find the answers?

Chelsea face trickier knockout tie

The last gasp equaliser for Zenit spells bad news for Chelsea, who now fall behind Juventus in the Champions League group stage, thanks to a narrow Juventus win over Malmo in the other game in the group.

This means that, while the Blues qualify, they qualify in second place, meaning that they will play one of the other group winners.

Meanwhile, three of the other English teams, who they cannot play, have qualified as winners, and they can also not be drawn against Juventus.

This leaves Tuchel’s side primed to play against either Ajax, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or one of Lille, Red Bull Salzburg and Sevilla.

It could prove a tricky tie.

Blues to enter the January market?

Based on some of the performances in Russia, Chelsea and Tuchel may wish to dip into the January transfer market to seek reinforcements.

With the Blues potentially challenging at the top on four fronts, as well as competing in the Club World Cup in January and February.

On the evidence of their clash with Zenit, they will need more quality in their ranks should they wish to truly compete on all four. Chief amongst the headaches facing Tuchel is the left wing-back role, with Ben Chilwell out for the foreseeable future and Marcos Alonso not able to play ever single game.

None of the options, be it Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic or, as against Zenit, Saul Niguez, have looked assured in the position, meaning that a January addition could prove necessary.

Read more:

Chelsea fans sharpen knives for one player after awful first half against Zenit

Covid-19 cases hit Leicester City as seven set to miss Europa League tie

 

 

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Aminat Aigbe

Aminat Aigbe is the first lady of afronaija and a very good blogger ( Original Mrs AfroNaija )

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