Chelsea kicked off 2023 with a disappointing 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Sunday.
Raheem Sterling opened the scoring in the 16th minute, after a ball disputed by Willy Boly and Kai Havertz fell to the feet of the England international to take advantage of it, although the Blues were unable to build on this momentum. Serge Aurier equalized after the hour mark, and the guests were forced to settle for a point, which made them occupy eighth place in the English Premier League table.
Chelsea have created some great clips of play from the start, even if they don’t always lead to goal-scoring opportunities. Sterling’s goal came from the Blues’ first big chance of the game, showing a welcome clinical edge.
Despite the visitors’ positive performance in the early stages, it was Forest forward Brennan Johnson who created the first notable chance. There were periods when it was all too easy for the hosts to break through the Chelsea defense and get behind the Chelsea defence, and the second half was particularly troubling as Forest eventually equalized.
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Manager rating out of 10
Graham Potter, 6 years old The manager stuck with the players who impressed against Bournemouth and initially saw a positive display from his side but did little to change the game as he slipped away from Chelsea in a disappointing second half. His triple change changed momentum again, but it wasn’t enough to earn a winner.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best; players submitted after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 7 – I stood well to save Johnson’s shot after the Wales international had been cut through. He made a fairly comfortable save to deny Taiwo Awoniyi, then blocked Johnson again moments later. He wasn’t given any chance when he was finally beaten.
Defender Cesar Azpilicueta, 5 He put up a big block to deny Morgan Gibbs-White and had a shot of his own from distance that deflected wide. He struggled in the second half because he couldn’t keep up with Johnson when he ran back, then was booked for a foul on Renan Lodi. Couldn’t get close enough to Aurier to turn down a tie.
Defender Kalidou Koulibaly, 4 – He moved the ball impressively in the first half, creating chances for Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic. However, he really struggled to deal with Awni, especially when he was forced into wider areas.
DF Thiago Silva – 7 – He showed his experience by expertly cutting in Awoniy’s cross and stopping Gibbs-White’s blast forward. He also played some ambitious passes to make life embarrassing for Forest defenders.
DF Mark Cucurella, 6 — He did well to prevent Johnson from navigating the channels on a fairly solid defensive display, and also shared some nice play with Pulisic.
M.F. Denis Zacharias, 6 – His patience was tested by Ryan Yates but he continued to put in an impressive first-half display in the middle of the field, especially when blocking the opposition. However, it couldn’t have the same effect after the break.
MF Jorginho, 6 – He played some great passes, including one to Sterling in the build-up to Mount’s chance, but there were times when he was easily taken out of the game.
MF Mason Mount, 7 – The former Derby County loanee wasn’t afraid to get involved in the combative side of the game, although he also showed quality with a perfectly weighted pass to Pulisic in the build-up to the opener. I made a big block to deny Gibbs-White.
FW Raheem Sterling, 7 – He wasn’t always on the same wavelength as his teammates in the early stages, but he picked Mount well in the box, then scored the opening goal with a clinical finish. He was dismissed by Boley and then gave a free kick on the edge of his own box as he faded from the game.
FW Kai Havertz, 5 – He fell deep to connect playing well and showed good presence at times, but was guilty of providing a loose touch in the box on several occasions to waste promising openings. His unconvincing header made it difficult for Forest to target.
FW Christian Pulisic, 6 – He often caused real problems for Forest defenders whenever he put them in a one-on-one situation, beating Joe Worrall with ease and hitting a cross that took the opener, while Aurier also struggled against him. He hit a weak shot from a promising position and Boley beat it to equalize.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 5 – He substituted Zakaria in the 61st minute and was unable to do anything to prevent Forest equalizing just two minutes later.
FW Hakim Ziyech, N/R – He seemed likely to get things going, delivering a fine cross that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang failed to convert.
MF Connor Gallagher, N/R – He looked instantly to get the ball when he was introduced, and played some lovely passes forward, to no avail.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, N/R – I tried to make things happen, but failed to hit the target with a header from Ziyech’s wonderful cross.
FW Carney Chukwuemeka, N/R – I couldn’t find a way to help Chelsea to a winner after his late submission.