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Chelsea player ratings vs. Udinese, Friendly Part 2: Loftus-Cheek stands out, Kovacic impresses, Pulisic quiet

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Chelsea player ratings vs. Udinese, Friendly Part 2: Loftus-Cheek stands out, Kovacic impresses, Pulisic quiet

Kepa Arrizabalaga

This was the Spaniard’s first pre-season outing since the win over Club America in Las Vegas two weeks ago – and Kepa didn’t have a great deal to do in the opening period beyond a routine save from Sandi Lovric. Had to deny Ilija Nestorovski after the break but was still largely untested before being replaced by Marcus Bettinelli. 6

Trevoh Chalobah

The senior member of the Chelsea back three given his 30 appearances last term, Chalobah was confident in possession and ready to step into midfield to help the Blues overload the Italian side. Chalobah was part of a defensive unit that improved as the game progressed and will be pushing for a start against Everton in a week’s time. 6

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Ethan Ampadu

Back in northern Italy after his season-long loan at Venezia last term, Ampadu played in the centre of the Chelsea backline and was always willing to try to move the Blues up the pitch quickly. Unfortunately, his radar was slightly off with long passes to Ben Chilwell slightly overhit. Defended well in the second period and there’s a decision to make over the Wales international’s future. 6

Malang Sarr

With Levi Colwill absent due to injury, this was another opportunity for Sarr to stake his claim as the back-up to Kalidou Koulibaly on the left of the Chelsea back three. The 23-year-old started shakily and twice gave the ball away on the halfway line. Improved as the match progressed and played one excellent crossfield pass to Hakim Ziyech. The jury remains out, however. 5

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Having not travelled to the USA for the club’s pre-season tour due to his vaccination status, this was Loftus-Cheek’s first pre-season action for the first team. The academy graduate was used at right wing-back and had been quiet in the opening period until he opened the scoring with a deft lob over Daniele Padelli.

Loftus-Cheek was more involved in the second period and showed quick feet to draw a penalty shortly after the restart, which Hakim Ziyech converted with confidence. The 26-year-old was the Blues’ biggest threat down the right flank. 8

Mateo Kovacic

Given his performances last season, it was something of a surprise that Kovacic didn’t feature in the more experienced Chelsea side that played on Friday night. However, he was the best player on the pitch in the opening period this morning and played a wonderful through pass to create Loftus-Cheek’s opener.

The Croatian wasn’t as influential after the break but offered a reassuring presence and constant outlet when the Blues had possession. Thomas Tuchel faces a difficult midfield decision with N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Kovacic all looking sharp and in form. 7

Conor Gallagher

The England international showed why he has secured a place in the first-team squad this season by twice threatening the goal in the early stages. Gallagher’s first effort cleared the crossbar and second after a lovely turn forced Padelli into a fine full-length stop.

The academy graduate was quieter after the interval and is unlikely to usurp Kante, Jorginho and Kovacic in the midfield pecking order. But there are minutes to be had for Gallagher and he is unlikely to let Chelsea down. 6

Ben Chilwell

After missing the second half of last season due to a knee ligament injury, Chilwell continues to build up his match fitness ahead of the 2022/23 campaign. The England international hasn’t yet regained the sharpness and dynamism in the final third, but that will come in time.

The important thing for Chilwell is he continues to get minutes under his belt and the 65 he managed at the Dacia Arena will prove important going forward. Whether it’s enough for him to start against Everton remains to be seen. 5

Christian Pulisic

Having watched Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling link well last night – and Kai Havertz start once more – Pulisic would have wanted to produce a performance that ensured he started against Everton. That didn’t happen. The American was on the periphery of the game throughout and was reluctant to drive at his opposition defender. Still needs to do more. 5

Armando Broja

With Romelu Lukaku gone and the form of Kai Havertz and Timo Werner unconvincing in pre-season, this was an opportunity for Broja to make his mark in the Chelsea attack. He had plenty of chances too. The 20-year-old had a header cleared off the line, a close-range effort roll wide, a lob clear the crossbar and a low shot saved by Padelli.

Broja was replaced at the interval by Callum Hudson-Odoi; that was no reflection on his performance and almost certainly because he has struggled with an injury in pre-season and had not previously played any minutes in Chelsea’s friendly matches. 6

Hakim Ziyech

Given AC Milan remain interested in the Moroccan, this was an opportunity for Ziyech to showcase what he could do against the Italian opposition while also improving his fitness for the campaign ahead.

There were a couple of flashes of his quality in the opening period – one excellent cross should’ve been converted by Broja – and after the break, but not enough for a player of Ziyech’s undoubted quality. He did get on the scoresheet, though, as he fired home from the penalty spot. 6

Substitutes

Callum Hudson-Odoi (for Armando Broja, HT)

Grabbed an assist in the friendly on Friday night, Hudson-Odoi was involved in the build-up to the penalty won by Loftus-Cheek. Spent the final 15 minutes at wing-back. 6

Kenedy (for Ben Chilwell, 65)

Played the final 25 minutes at right wing-back. Had one shot blocked and another saved. 6

Emerson Palmieri (for Malang Sarr, 65)

Yet another outing for the Italian international at centre-back. You doubt he’ll feature in the role too often if he stays at Chelsea but he’s proved himself a reliable option. 6

Marcus Bettinelli (for Kepa, 65)

Didn’t have a save to make after being introduced. 6

Billy Gilmour (for Conor Gallagher, 75)

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