Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea ended their torrid 2023 with three crucial points – defeating Rob Edwards’ Luton Town at Kenilworth Road.
The Blues took the lead early on in the first half thanks to Cole Palmer – who netted a stunning strike just inside the Luton penalty box.
Late on in the first half, Chelsea doubled their lead – with Noni Madueke firing past Thomas Kaminski on his weaker foot.
Palmer thought he had sealed the game for the London side, but back came Edwards’ men. Ross Barkley scored a delightful header late on against his former club before Elijah Adebayo made it a nervy ending – but Pochettino’s side held on.
Here, Mail Sport rates Chelsea’s players during the Kenilworth Road clash…
Chelsea ended 2023 with a win away at Rob Edwards’ Luton Town on Saturday afternoon
Cole Palmer scored twice – and assisted the second goal – in their win at Kenilworth Road
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Djordje Petrovic – 6
Once again filling in for the injured Robert Sanchez, the 24-year-old was a passenger for the most part.
The Serbian shot-stopper was rarely threatened in the first half. Luton came back in the final 45 and he was tested a fair bit towards the end. There was nothing he could’ve done about the two goals, though.
Malo Gusto – 7
As soon as Reece James is back, it is fair to say that Pochettino may have a selection headache.
Gusto has come in recently and impressed Blues fans. The young Frenchman was constantly up and down the pitch and provided a real threat down that right flank – but his one versus one defending needs some improvement.
Axel Disasi – 6
While Thiago Silva ran the show at the back, Disasi was consistent when called upon and rarely put a foot wrong throughout the match. As the Hatters were pushing for a late equaliser, Disasi was involved in the game a lot more – and was reliable when needed.
Malo Gusto will give Mauricio Pochettino some food for thought once Reece James is back
Thiago Silva – 7.5
In a game where the Blues needed his expertise and experience, the Brazilian veteran delivered. At 39, Silva showed that he ages like a fine wine – after producing a solid performance at the back.
The Brazilian was at the right place at the right time and never disappointed when called upon.
Levi Colwill – 6
Playing in an unfamiliar left back role yet again, and it showed. The young defender was exposed a fair few times on the left hand side – as the Luton wide players found a lot of joy down that flank. Ian Maatsen will be wondering what he has to do to start in his preferred position.
Moises Caicedo – 6.5
Chelsea fans are yet to see a world class performance from their record signing. Had a few shaky spells in the first half – conceding needless fouls – but grew into the clash as the game went on.
Conor Gallagher – 7.5
Started the game as captain once again and he certainly led by example. His work rate and relentless pressure in midfield was a breath of fresh air for the Blues. When the team were under pressure, Gallagher was the key man to provide stability and calmness in midfield.
Conor Gallagher proved to be a bright spark in Chelsea’s midfield against Luton on Saturday
Noni Madueke – 7.5
The Englishman was rewarded with a start after his winning penalty against Crystal Palace in the Blues’ last game – and he certainly delivered.
Madueke took a little bit of time to get into the game, but went on to score Chelsea’s second with a stunning strike on his weak foot.
Despite a slightly quiet second half, the tricky winger can be pleased with his performance.
Cole Palmer – 8
Back from suspension and back on the scoresheet. Palmer started the move with a lovely ball through to Jackson. After some poor defending from Luton, the ball made its way to the Englishman – who punished the Hatters with a terrific strike to score his seventh of the season. The midfielder then provided an assist for Madueke, before grabbing another well-taken goal.
Nicolas Jackson – 6.5
Starting on the left, Jackson was involved in a lot of Chelsea’s attacks during the first half.
His ferocious pace caused the Luton backline some issues in the first 45. While the Senegalese forward had little to no chances inside the Luton box, his performance on the left will certainly have pleased the head coach.
Armando Broja – 6
It’s fair to say that it was quiet day at the office for the young striker. He was mainly drifting out wide to try and get a touch of the ball but was ultimately replaced early in the second half.
Englishman Noni Madueke impressed throughout on his return to the starting eleven
Christopher Nkunku – 6
Came on in place of Broja early on in the second half. Despite starting against Crystal Palace behind the striker, Nkunku was brought on as the focal point against the Hatters.
Enzo Fernandez – N/A
Was brought on to provide a bit of stability in midfield after the Blues conceded their first goal late on in the game.
Alfie Gilchrist – N/A
Replaced Cole Palmer in added time in an attempt to add cover to the backline and see out the game.