Chelsea continue their success in the Third Round of the FA Cup defeating Nottingham Forest at Stamford Bridge by the score of 2-0. The Blues victory means that they have not lost in the Third Round in their last 21 matches.
Two goals from Alvaro Morata were enough to see Chelsea through on an eventful afternoon at Stamford Bridge that saw a couple of Chelsea’s youth products get starts and a potential farewell to one of Chelsea’s stalwarts over the past four years.
That backdrop to the match was almost set during the week where it emerged that Cesc Fabregas was on the verge of joining Monaco and Callum Hudson-Odoi became a transfer target of Bayern Munich, suggesting that his lack of first-team opportunities at Stamford Bridge and the success of Jadon Sancho at Borussia Dortmund had turned his head.
Regardless, neither of those transfers happened before Saturday’s match, and both featured against Nottingham Forest, and Fabregas was handed the captaincy.
Amidst an injury crisis in the wide positions, Eden Hazard was rested and placed amongst the substitutes, giving Hudson-Odoi a chance to start on the left.
But it was Morata that had the first real opportunity of the match when Davide Zappacosta played a cross from the right that evaded the Forest defence. Morata got his head to it, but with the goal gaping, headed it straight at Forest’s goalkeeper Luke Steele.
Morata’s day looked like it would continue to be a frustrating one when he was denied a foul trying to reach a pass over the top that would send him through on goal. Claudio Yacob had a small pull on Morata’s arm and they tangled legs, and Yacob might have been fortunate to get away with that challenge.
But Danny Fox wasn’t as lucky when he mistimed a challenge and bundled over Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the penalty area. Fabregas stepped up to take the penalty, but his stuttering run-up was a bit slow and gave Luke Steele time to react to his shot and push it wide of the post.
Loftus-Cheek unfortunately succumbed to a back injury and was taken off just before the half, appearing distraught as he headed down the tunnel.
Hazard was summoned from the bench, and Hazard’s biggest contribution to the match might have been simply his presence on the pitch.
Forest clearly were concerned with the threat of Hazard who was now drifting in from the left-hand side and giving Hudson-Odoi all sorts of space to attack their left back one on one.
The visitors were made to pay on two occasions in the second half. Using his pace and trickery, Hudson-Odoi showed his ability to play as a winger, beating his man regularly and putting in dangerous crosses.
He set up Chelsea’s first goal by beating the left back and drilling a low cross into the penalty area that Morata was able to tap in after beating his marker.
The second was very similar, only this time Hudson-Odoi whipped in a high cross from the byline that Morata was able to guide into the net beyond Steele.
Oddly enough, Morata didn’t really celebrate either goal, continuing to be a bit of an enigma and looking short on confidence.
Five minutes from the end of the match, Fabregas was substituted for N’Golo Kante, receiving an ovation and a send-off from the home crowd as he’s likely to depart in the next few weeks.