Chelsea player ratings: Cole Palmer the key man in win vs. Luton

Chelsea ended 2023 with an encouraging performance and a 3-2 away win against Luton Town in the Premier League.

Cole Palmer punished a lapse of concentration from Issa Kaboré to open the scoring 12 minutes in, and Noni Madueke doubled Chelsea’s lead before half-time.

Palmer then showed incredible composure to round off the scoring in the 70th minute and seemingly wrap up the victory. However, former Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley scored before Elijah Adebayo‘s goal gave the visitors hope with a late rally that ultimately came up short.

The Blues remain 10th despite earning the three points — although they are now only one point behind ninth-placed Newcastle United ahead of the Magpies’ match against Liverpool on New Year’s Day.

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The unique challenge playing at Kenilworth Road offers has been well documented, and Chelsea dealt with it well for large periods, matching the Hatters’ physically and dealing with their aerial threat for large periods. In addition, all three of their goals were taken brilliantly and came at important times in the game.


Even though it was inconsequential in terms of the points, Chelsea completely collapsed defensively after conceding their first goal — which came from a corner and should have been dealt with better. Chelsea fans probably didn’t want to see quite as much of their former player and Luton goal-scorer Barkley as they did in general play either.

Manager rating

Mauricio Pochettino, 7 — The coach’s big selection call was handing Madueke his second Premier League start of the season, and he was rewarded when the winger scored his side’s second. Chelsea also looked prepared for a testing away trip and were well-organised defensively for most of the game, but he will likely be furious that the result was as close as it was.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Djordje Petrovic, 6 — Was largely comfortable with his feet and came out well at times, even if he dropped Alfie Doughty‘s cross but held it at the second attempt. Little he could do about the goals, but he got a great touch on Carlton Morris‘ attempt.

DF Malo Gusto, 7 — Used his body brilliantly when defending against Doughty for most of the game but really struggled against in him in the latter periods. Made some good forays forward, with one run helping to create space for Madueke’s goal. Some of his passing was off in the second period. Booked for time wasting.

DF Axel Disasi, 6 — Provided a real presence when defending balls into the box for most of the game and got his head on to some potentially dangerous balls, but struggled in the latter stages. Did well to pick out Nicolas Jackson in the build-up to the third goal.

DF Thiago Silva, 8 — Used all of his experience to take up some superb positions and deal with Luton’s threat from crosses, as was epitomised when he stopped a Barkley free-kick delivery and Chiedozie Ogbene shot. Also played some nice balls forward.

DF Levi Colwill, 6 — Did a good job defensively against Kabore and Andros Townsend, while he also made a run forward and played the ball to Palmer in the build-up to Chelsea’s second.

MF Moisés Caicedo, 7 — Had some sloppy moments in the first half but played a nice ball forward in the build-up to Chelsea’s second goal and blocked Jacob Brown‘s shot in the box.

MF Conor Gallagher, 6 — Put in a determined display and took a knock when blocking Brown’s shot. He wasn’t completely convincing in the opposition box, seeing one tame shot saved and another attempt blocked.

MF Cole Palmer, 9 — Had periods where he was quiet but made the difference when he was involved: clinically scoring the opener, providing the assist for Madueke to score the second and showing superb composure for the third. Also worked hard for the team and pressed well at times.

MF Noni Madueke, 7 — Backed himself to score despite attention from Amari’i Bell and Doughty, taking his goal superbly. He often gave Doughty problems with his attacking play but also put in good defensive work to help Gusto at the other end. Was quieter in the second period and couldn’t get his shot on target.

FW Nicolas Jackson, 7 — Endured his struggles at times and had an intriguing battle with Teden Mengi but was persistent, doing well to set up Palmer for the Blues’ third. Helped out his defence in the final moments.

FW Armando Broja, 6 — Provided good hold-up and link-up play in the first half, while he was unlucky not to see anyone meet his ball across goal. Was quieter in the second period.

Substitutes (players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

Christopher Nkunku, 5 — Replaced Broja in the 62nd minute and struggled to have much of a notable impact with Luton doing most of the attacking.

Enzo Fernández, N/R — Replaced Madueke in the 81st minute and looked weak, easily bypassed on a couple of occasions.

Alfie Gilchrist, N/R — Replaced Palmer in the 91st minute and put in a vital tackle on Doughty in the final moment of the match.

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