Hudson-Odoi 8/10 as Chelsea, Morata get some confidence by beating Nottingham Forest
LONDON -- Alvaro Morata ended his goal drought to strike twice as Chelsea booked their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest at Stamford Bridge. Given a rare run-out, coveted academy prospect (and Bayern Munich target) Callum Hudson-Odoi was the most impressive performer.
Chelsea responded to Wednesday's stalemate against Southampton, and Hudson-Odoi provided further evidence of why Bayern want him so much with two well-taken assists. Morata knows what it feels like to score again, and Maurizio Sarri also got to rest a number of his key players ahead of the Carabao Cup semifinal.
Morata still offered little here to convince anyone that he is over his confidence issues while Ruben Loftus-Cheek gave Sarri another injury headache shortly before half-time, forcing Eden Hazard into action on what should have been a night off for him.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Sarri gave Hudson-Odoi and Ethan Ampadu belated opportunities to impress here, though you suspect the former will require more encouragement if he is to turn down Bayern's overtures. He also handed Fabregas a chance to say one final goodbye to Stamford Bridge before he joins Monaco.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Willy Caballero, 6 -- Chelsea's dominance of both possession and territory left him with little to do, but he made two reasonable saves and otherwise enjoyed a solid, understated evening.
DF Davide Zappacosta, 7 -- Laid on a golden chance for Morata early on with a perfect cross and his deliveries from the right in general were better than in recent appearances. Forest didn't cause him too many problems going the other way. He even managed to test Luke Steele with a couple of crosses.
DF Andreas Christensen, 7 -- Read danger well and was also more proactive with the ball at his feet, striding forward whenever the opportunity presented itself and looking for incisive passes. Never in trouble defensively but the way he will earn Sarri's trust is by showcasing his attacking instincts.
DF David Luiz, 7 -- Marshalled a second-string back line with authority, winning the majority of his duels with the muscular Daryl Murphy and getting Chelsea on the front foot where he could. Toned down his more expansive urges on the ball and focused on the fundamentals.
DF Emerson Palmieri, 6 -- Showed nice link-up with Hudson-Odoi in the first half after some overlapping runs, picking out Fabregas with one intelligent pull-back, but the defensive side of his game remains a question mark. Forest regularly found joy overloading his flank in the second half without protection from his winger.
MF Ethan Ampadu, 7 -- Deployed in a more advanced midfield role by Sarri for the first time this season, he brought energy, poise and aggression to the heart of Chelsea's team, even if his passing wasn't always the most ambitious. Looks ready for an expanded role if Fabregas leaves.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 6 -- Captain in what he clearly believes will be his final Chelsea appearance, he seemed determined to write his own farewell script, surging forward from the Jorginho position into the box. Got his chance from the penalty spot in the first half, but fluffed his lines.
MF Ross Barkley, 6 -- Pretty neat and tidy in possession and works hard to contribute to the team press, but he isn't offering anything like the goal threat he did during his best moments in the autumn. Mateo Kovacic appears pretty nailed on to start against Tottenham on Tuesday.
FW Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 7 -- Showed good flashes on the right, jinking his way out of tight spaces and using his quick feet to win the penalty that Fabregas missed. His body keeps letting him down though, and he was forced off the field on the verge of tears in the 42nd minute.
FW Alvaro Morata, 7 -- Found the net for the first time since Nov. 29 and ended the night with two nicely taken goals, but his demeanour and performances are still worryingly reminiscent of bad Fernando Torres. One first-half header totally lacked conviction, and he missed another sitter while offside.
FW Callum Hudson-Odoi, 8 -- All eyes were on him given Bayern's interest, and he produced the moment of quality that put Chelsea ahead, beating Saidy Janko easily before whipping in a low cross that gave Morata a tap-in. Got his second assist with a floated delivery to the back post that the Spaniard nodded in.
FW Eden Hazard, 6 -- An unwanted cameo with Tottenham to come on Tuesday, he played within himself from the moment Morata broke the deadlock and Sarri eventually moved him up front, having accepted that his superstar wasn't going to expend energy tracking back on the left.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 6 - Forever versatile, he came on to shore up the left of Chelsea's defence with Emerson pushing up in front of him, and did his job.
MF N'Golo Kante, NR -- Brought on in the final minutes in large part to give Fabregas one last standing ovation from Stamford Bridge.