Chelsea supporters got their first look at Gonzalo Higuain in action for their club as he made his debut in their 3-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday at Stamford Bridge. The Argentine was unable to mark his FA Cup appearance with a goal but there were glimpses of his quality.
The 31-year-old striker, signed on loan from Juventus, knows Maurizio Sarri’s style of play well – he scored 36 goals under the Italian in the 2015/16 season, breaking the record for the most goals ever netted in a Serie A season. But he struggled to get into the game at first.
In fact, Higuain had to wait until the eighth minute of the game to get his first proper touch of the ball against Championship opposition. But with his subtle movements there were soon signs of why the powerful forward could help Chelsea as the focal point of their attack.
As part of a largely second-string team, there are little clues yet how he might link up with Eden Hazard but both the Belgian and midfield playmaker Jorginho will surely benefit from Higuain’s ability to exploit space inside the penalty box.
He was denied only by the legs of his marker when firing off one shot from close range just inside the first 20 minutes and though there were some indications of rustiness – this was only his second appearance since the turn of the year – it was an encouraging effort.
8 – His first touch of the ball finally arrives and it is a simple lay-off.
9 – He is clattered by the defender when going to collect a pass to his feet.
19 – Clever run beats the offside trap but his shot is deflected wide.
26 – Willian converts from the spot after seeming to offer the ball to the striker.
39 – Good first touch after breaking the offside trap again but he is forced wide.
53 – Head on his hands as Willian’s low left-wing cross just eludes him.
63 – Gets ahead of his marker and heads Ampadu’s cross wide of the far post.
79 – Attempts a one-two with Kovacic but the return pass does not arrive.
80 – Replaced by Giroud with 10 minutes of the game remaining.
Chelsea, of course, will want more than hints and clues to Higuain’s quality if he is to come up with the goals that Sarri requires from him in order to keep the team in the top four. It is Bournemouth away on Wednesday before a home game against Huddersfield on Saturday. He will be needed.