Chelsea: Redknapp slams decision to sack Lampard
Chelsea’s more illustrious stars should take a long look at themselves after a number of shocking performances that nearly saw one of the biggest FA Cup upsets of the season. Barnsley were exceptionally well-coached as they hosted the Blues and, in the end, the match was decided by a singular goal from Tammy Abraham as the club’s academy proved pivotal once again.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel was spotted on the touchline at Oakwell absolutely livid with his players on numerous occasions – perhaps the first indication that he has certainly got a job on his hands.
On a night where a number of players had a point to prove to the new manager, many failed to take that opportunity as the Stamford Bridge outfit were bailed out by their academy once again.
Barnsley were the better team for much of the match and were unlucky not to go into the break two goals up, with Kepa Arrizabalaga proving pivotal.
Back in the line-up from the wilderness, the Spaniard stuck out a crucial left leg to deny Callum Britain.
Chelsea stars Tammy Abraham and Reece James proved pivotal
On the cusp of half-time, Victor Adeboyejo was inches away at a corner and Tuchle was clearly not happy.
At the break, he made two personnel changes with Marcos Alonso and Andreas Christensen coming off for Reece James and Antonio Rudiger.
It also saw a change in formation, going to a back-four for the first time in his Chelsea career.
But it did little to stem the flow of Barnsley’s enthusiasm, which remained in abundance as they pressed and harried Chelsea’s defence.
Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic both cost the Blues a total of just under £100m.
But neither could do anything to worry a physically imposing Barnsley defence.
Instead, that task was picked up by Callum Hudson-Odoi, who seemed to be the only one wanting to do damage.
The 20-year-old is quickly becoming an integral part of Tuchel’s side – playing an array of positions.
Hakim Ziyech had a poor game against Barnsley for Chelsea
He has been deployed as a right wing-back, a striker and now a left-forward under the tinkering German.
And he has flourished in them all and Chelsea’s players swiftly learned that it would be the young forward that would be the difference maker against the Tykes.
But it was on the opposite side where the opener came from, when a suddenly injection of pace saw James through on goal.
The right-back had the easy task of supplying Tammy Abraham, who scored his 12th goal of the season.
James was put through by Billy Gilmour, to complete a goal made in Chelsea.
Abraham was a true match-winner at both ends of the pitch when he headed over a late Barnsley chance from a free-kick.
Along with Hudson-Odoi, the four academy starlets proved to be the difference makers on a night where so many had a point to prove.
Ziyech, in particular, had a real horrorshow of a performance and got a real reminder the younger lads are gunning for his position when another Chelsea product came on for him in the shape of Timo Anjorin.
Another who must take a closer look at themselves is Pulisic, who was a breakout star under Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund – who gave him his debut.
Thomas Tuchel was not happy on many occasions
But that was six years ago and, although still only 22, he must start showing the same form he did last summer for Chelsea – when he was a real match-winner.
Alonso appears to be a little more safer in his job after being ostracised by Frank Lampard, with Tuchel preferring the Spaniard to Ben Chilwell when playing three at the back.
However, he showed exactly why Lampard was happy to boot him out with an abysmal first-half performance.
Even without Chelsea’s poster-boy Mason Mount, it was the academy that once again proved that the best solutions at Stamford Bridge do not always necessarily have to cost millions of pounds.
On a tough night in Yorkshire, weaker personalities would have faltered but a strong mindset kept the more illustrious club from suffering a huge FA Cup upset.