Player Ratings: Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea Pre-Season
Chelsea continued their fine pre-season form with a 2-1 victory over arch-rivals Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Blues travelled to the home of their once fearsome local foes for ‘The Mind Series’, in support of the eponymous mental health organisation, and turned in a performance of great intensity in a competitive affair to prevail.
The Pensioners took the lead in the 26th minute. Timo Werner fed in his German counterpart Kai Havertz, who rifled a delicious finish into the roof of the net to put the icing on an electric breakaway.
Both sides were to hit the woodwork before the first half was out, with the break signalling the end of the game for Chelsea’s late returners from the European Championships.
A raft of further changes from the away side midway through the second-half coincided with an Arsenal equaliser – a Granit Xhaka header leaving Kepa Arrizabalaga rooted to the spot.
But the lead was restored in the 71st minute, with Tammy Abraham pouncing on sloppy defending from the Gunners and slotting home calmly. It was to be the last goal of a well-fought encounter. As Thomas Tuchel and his Blues look forward to Spurs on Tuesday, we take a look at today’s player ratings…
Edouard Mendy – 7/10 
Much improved after a shaky showing for the Senegalese giant against Bournemouth, and that includes his distribution. Arsenal didn’t give him a wealth of work to deal with, but dealt with anything they did throw at him with competence and confidence.
Kurt Zouma – 6/10 
Linked with a move away here, there and everywhere, the Frenchman wasn’t a great deal of help in covering for Pulisic’s forward runs today.
Trevoh Chalobah – 7/10 
Given the nod in the ‘quarterback’ role, he didn’t look out of place alongside his two senior partners. His passing, albeit safe, was good and he proved a strong presence in the Chelsea rearguard. A performance to be proud of for the Sierra Leonean.
Antonio Rudiger – 7/10 
Reminded viewers why he’s grown into a fan favourite with a crunching tackle within the first ten minutes of his pre-season. Had a tough assignment against Nicolas Pepe on paper, but in reality it was an easy day at the office for Chelsea’s captain for the day.
Christian Pulisic – 5/10 
It’s doubtful he was selected at wing-back on account of his defensive abilities, and it showed as Kieran Tierney and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang had a lot of joy up against the American. Tidy enough going forward, but was the least effective member of the attacking unit too.
Callum Hudson-Odoi – 8/10 
Ran rampant down the left flank, showing the Arsenal defence a clean pair of heels almost at will and beating his man like it was child’s play. The question this season is whether he can add that final flourish of killer instinct. It wasn’t to be today, but it’ll come. On the evidence of this pre-season thus far, the Premier League is in trouble.
Mateo Kovacic – 7/10 
That he copped a yellow card for a tactical foul in the first half of a pre-season game is not only a source of amusement, but also an indicator of the sheer professionalism he exudes in taking every game as seriously as the last. As elegant as ever in the centre of the park, and his pre-assist for the goal was on point.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 7/10 
Came out of the gates with an incredibly positive start to proceedings, with shades of his signature driving runs on display and lots of endeavour in his passing. Made a couple of errors on account of both qualities, but cannot be faulted on the whole for his industry and adventurousness
Hakim Ziyech – 7/10 
‘The Wizard’ took a while to get going, but a couple of tidy killer balls, an effort pinged off the post and some excellent pressing before half-time elevated a performance which had initially been a little sloppy by his lofty standards. Should have made it 2-0 if not for inexplicably taking too long to shoot after rounding Bernd Leno.
Timo Werner – 6/10 
A fault oftentimes with the German in the last campaign was his decision-making, guilty of not releasing the ball quick enough or his dribbling failing him. There were a number of occasions that was the case today – including arguably for the opener – but nonetheless registered an assist and showed why he’s an important influence in the Chelsea team.
Kai Havertz – 8/10 
There seems to be a consensus forming in the Blues’ community that this season is going to be the Kai Havertz show, and the goal he took with aplomb will inspire that confidence. With Chelsea’s much purported striker search dragging on longer than usual, will the burden fall upon the former Leverkusen man to pick up the slack? New arrival or no new arrival, expect the man they call ‘King Kai’ to rise to the challenge regardless.
Kepa Arrizabalaga  – 6/10
The Arsenal equaliser coincided with his introduction, so make of that what you will, but the Spaniard made a few other decent saves too.
Dujon Sterling  – 7/10
An excellent block on a Nicolas Pepe attempt was the highlight of a good showing from the young wing-back-cum-auxiliary centre-back.
Davide Zappacosta  – 6/10
Never really troubled on the right hand side of the field and it allowed him to embark on a few decent forward runs.
Malang Sarr  – 6/10
Fired an effort into row Z, and then some, as the game drew to a conclusion. Not infamous for his finishing, but his defending was solid, and that’s what he earns a wage for.
Baba Rahman  – 6/10
Most of Arsenal’s attacking went down his flank in the second period, and he dealt with the task fairly comfortably.
Danny Drinkwater  – 6/10
Seeing him and N’Golo Kante in the title-winning pivot once again was a sight to behold. Tracking back was a little suspect, but perhaps not his assignment given his illustrious partner was holding his hand once again.
N’Golo Kante  – 6/10
Some good minutes under his belt after a long season for the Frenchman.
Ross Barkley  – 6/10
Mr Pre-Season is yet to show his usual explosion, but his work was tidy enough.
Tammy Abraham  – 6/10
Yet another head-scratcher of a performance. Got the winning goal, but spurned a number of other good chances and seemed generally disinterested.
Michy Batshuayi  – 6/10
The Batsman was sporting a new haircut for his big return to the fold. Had hardly any impact otherwise, but it will be interesting to see if he sticks around the first team equation given departures, and expected departures, in his position.