How Chelsea’s forgotten guy ended a 130-day wait for Mauricio Pochettino’s major transfer problem
Carney Chukwuemeka shone for Chelsea despite the Blues being comfortably thrashed 4-1 by Manchester United at Old Trafford in their penultimate match of the 2022/23 season after 130 days, a different head coach, and a slew of new teammates. Carney Chukwuemeka hasn’t started a Premier League game for Chelsea since he was a teenager.
It had taken a long time, but the 19-year-old was finally given a chance away at Manchester United on Thursday evening. After been left out of England’s Under-20 squad for the World Cup because his club need him, he was desperate for this opportunity.
And, despite the fact that it was clouded by yet another Chelsea defeat, he took it. The teenager was immediately involved, playing on the right side of a midfield three and shooting just over the crossbar from outside the area.
Chelsea’s Chukwuemeka was seeing a lot of the ball on the edge of the box as they attempted to get behind United. His footwork is superb, as evidenced by the fact that he – and his right-hand side teammate, Noni Madueke – frequently appeared like the one who was going to do something for the Blues in attack.
There were also two driving runs in the first half that demonstrated his strength and confidence in his game. On 35 minutes, he drove forward with the ball, with no one close to him, but he had no choices in blue, and nothing came of it. Soon after, something similar occurred, but this time he found his partner on the right side after running into the middle of the pitch at Old Trafford.
Chukwuemeka delivered an amazing 45-minute cameo. It was overshadowed, though, by Manchester United extending their advantage just before halftime, completely against the run of play, with Anthony Martial tapping in from a Jadon Sancho cross across goal.
Chukwuemeka completed more successful attacking third passes (16/18) than any other player on either team in the first half. He was also perfect at take-ons (2/2), long balls (1/1) and ground duel bouts (5/5).
He was considerably quieter in the second period, but to be fair, his team was much poorer. Chelsea were unable to maintain the ball and play semi-decent football like they did in the first half, which obviously affected Chukwuemeka.
He was taken off long before the end of the game, but he should be delighted that he got some much-needed playing time and that he impressed at times. Chelsea are considering loaning Chukwuemeka out next season, but based on what we witnessed against Manchester United, there could be a place for him in Mauricio Pochettino’s plans.
Mason Mount appears to be on his way out, with Manchester United thought to be the front-runners for his signing. If he does depart, Pochettino may not have to look far to find a straight successor.
Chukwuemeka is highly regarded at the club, and senior officials are said to have huge plans for him in the future, despite the possibility of loaning him out next season. Along with a handful of current squad members, he is seen as a potential prospect.
Hopefully, the teenager will get a chance to impress against Newcastle United in the season finale on Sunday. Then who knows: he could play a significant role under Pochettino next season.