Chelsea may have struggled against Bayern Munich and Bournemouth in their previous two contests, but you wouldn't have known based on Tuesday's performance, the Blues looking very convincing during their 2-0 FA Cup Fifth Round win over Liverpool.
The Blues pulled ahead in the 13th minute, via a fortunate Willian goal. After the Brazilian had seen his strike saved brilliantly by Adrian a matter of seconds before, his countryman Fabinho lost the ball on the edge of his own box, gifting Willian an opportunity. The winger hit his shot straight at Adrian, but the keeper made a meal of it, the ball squirting through his arms and into the net to give Chelsea the lead.
The home side doubled their advantage on 64 minutes, Ross Barkley powering through the middle of the pitch on a long solo run and smashing a brilliant strike from outside the box. Frank Lampard's men professionally saw out their 2-0 lead from there, as Chelsea advanced to the final eight of the tournament that is now their best chance at silverware this season.
The Blues showed their intensity from the very beginning of the game, not letting Liverpool settle at all. Their pressing was an important part of this, as best embodied by the lead up to their opener, when they forced the mistake from Liverpool on the edge of their own box.
In addition, the midfield unit worked superbly, while various players in the team showed their versatility by playing out of position.
Chelsea could have easily been a goal down early on, as they gave the ball away cheaply in dangerous areas twice in the opening minutes. Being picky with their attacking play, they could have been a bit more clinical.
Finally, Mateo Kovacic and Willian both came off injured which will be a worry for Lampard with the Blues in a tight battle for a Champions League place.
Manager rating out of 10
9 -- Lampard trusted Billy Gilmour to play in the middle of the park, which is a decision that was definitely warranted. The Chelsea boss also dealt with the setback from the aforementioned injuries well, showing he isn't afraid to move players around when push comes to shove. This felt like a game that was won by the tactics and collective unit rather than individual performances.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 8 -- If there was a lack of confidence in the Spaniard, it likely will have been remedied by his superb triple save. He also showed real control and maturity, as he wasn't afraid to go long when it wasn't appropriate to play out from the back -- something that he's struggled with in the past.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 5 -- There were multiple points where his defending looked suspect, while some of his passing was also off.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 7 -- Made a shocking clearance that almost led to a Liverpool goal within three minutes, but looked a lot more solid as time went on.
DF Kurt Zouma, 7 -- The Frenchman also made an early error on the ball, but just like his centre-back partner, he settled down as time went on.
DF Marcos Alonso, 7 -- Came painfully close to scoring with a free kick and was steady in his general play. Showed that he can be a useful option for Lampard when deploying a back four.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 6 -- Played with the all-action style that is typical of him and was looking fairly effective. However, he was forced off in the 42nd minute after a challenge from Neco Williams.
MF Billy Gilmour, 9 -- There was a lot of focus on the 18-year-old before kick-off, but that didn't faze him in the slightest, as he looked very composed. Taking his age out of the equation, Gilmour was seriously impressive with both his play on the ball and the defensive side of the game. It won't be much of a surprise if we see more of the teenager this season.
FW Willian, 7 -- Having just been denied by Adrian, he scored just seconds after thanks in large to an error from Adrian. There were other bright moments for the Brazilian before being forced off through injury in the 51st minute.
MF Ross Barkley, 7 -- Showed impressive creativity on the ball, but struggled to make the most of some chances. However, he carved one out for himself and finished it off superbly, as he drove through the middle of the pitch and fired a laser by Adrian from outside the box.
FW Pedro, 5 -- He was guilty of overcomplicating things, which prevented him from making the most of the opportunities that arose. Also worked hard to help Azpilicueta defensively. His willingness to work and wastefulness in the attacking third were embodied when he won the ball but hit a weak strike that was easily saved by Adrian.
FW Olivier Giroud, 7 - The Frenchman really struggled in and around the opposition box, but provided some very encouraging link-up play to bring his teammates into the game.
MF Mason Mount, 6 -- Replaced the injured Kovacic in the 42nd minute and was really positive in his play. Hit the crossbar with a free kick from near the edge of the box.
MF Jorginho, 5 -- Replaced Willian in the 51st minute and struggled to put his stamp on the game.
DF Reece James, N/R -- Replaced Giroud in the 90th minute and didn't have much to do.