We have 100% and looked like we could’ve got a result at times, but two moments of quality won the day in a game where Lejeune, Longstaff and Rondon stood out.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance and my marks out of 10:
NUFC XI – (5-2-2-1): Dubravka (6) – Yedlin (5), Lejeune (8), Lascelles (7), Clark (7), Ritchie (6) – Hayden (6) , Longstaff (8*) – Perez (5) , Atsu (5) – Rondon (8).
Dubravka – 6 – Found himself in no mans lands for Pedro’s goal – allowing him to be lobbed a little too easily – and found himself in the same position in the second half; only for Willian to miss. Pulled off a brilliant save down to his right to deny Pedro in the second half and the odd cross well; aside from one he got away with after parrying straight to a Chelsea player.
Yedlin – 5 – This rating perhaps looks a little harsh given we did pretty well defensively, but he was ball watching for Willian’s winner, making it a little too easy for him to get a shot away. His pace gives us a brilliant outlet at times, but his final ball is very frustrating – especially when he’s left out of position when he loses it high up the pitch.
Lejeune – 8 – Looked like he’d never been away and anything but a player who’d just come back from a serious knee ligament injury. Ready the play well with some well timed tackles and blocks and added an air of calm and composure to the back four. Also showed his class on the ball with some pinged passes out wide and one well hit shot in the first half. Great to have him back.
Lascelles – 7 – A solid display from the skipper, who didn’t do much wrong. He put in some strong recovery challenges and looked more assured – something which Lejeune’s return may have contributed to given the two formed a formidable partnership over the second half of last season.
Clark – 7 – Was caught ball watching as he failed to track Pedro for their opener, but he soon made up for that with a brilliant header from a corner to bring us back level. A steady display aside from his early error, with his well taken goal giving us a lifeline in a game that threatened to slip away from us early on.
Ritchie – 6 – Didn’t communicate well enough at all for their opening goal, allowing Pedro to run off him and in behind Clark early on. Put in a brilliant cross for Clark’s goal and whipped in a few dangerous balls which Rondon almost got onto.
Hayden – 6 – Couldn’t fault his effort, with him chasing every ball and putting in a real shift, but he got caught in possession a few too many times in his own half. Passing was also mixed and second touch is a tackle a little too often, but did a solid job in midfield – especially when you consider the Chelsea trio he and Longstaff were up against.
Longstaff – 8* – A superb display given he was up against Jorginho, Kante and Kovacic on his Premier League debut. He stuck to task very well, ran himself into the ground (covering more ground than any other player on the pitch running 12.8km) and used the ball very well at times too, spraying some brilliant passes out wide. A very promising display which will have done wonders for his chances of another shot in the first-team. All things considered, he’s my man of the match.
Perez – 5 – Sliced out biggest chance wide after being put through from a Rondon flick on. He never looks like scoring when he has too much time to think about it, and this was a prime example. Had some nice pieces of link up play with Rondon, but drifted in and out the game, with moments of promise often ending in frustration.
Atsu – 5 – Gave us an outlet in the first half with some decent bursts forward, but his final ball was frustrating, with several crosses hitting the first man. Faded out of the game in the second half but can’t fault his effort.
Rondon – 8 – He was an absolute monster up top and held off Chelsea defenders all night to hold up the ball – it’s just a real shame there wasn’t enough quality around him to make the most of it. He put Perez in on goal with a brilliant flick on, linked the play well and bullied David Luiz. A powerful display where his battling and strong hold up play gave us a platform to attack.
Murphy – N/A – Only one for 10 minutes and failed to make much of an impact, with us rarely managing to get the ball into good attacking areas late on.
Manquillo – N/A – Another who came on late so struggled to make a major impact. Did put in one good cross for Rondon who header just wide, however.