It turns out that writing off Kai Havertz two games into his Chelsea career was somewhat misguided. After the sniping that greeted the German’s rusty displays against Brighton and Liverpool, he burst into a life with a hat-trick as Chelsea reached the fourth round of the Carabao Cup with a thumping win over Barnsley.
This was a reminder everybody deserves to be given time to settle after a big move, even when they happen to be one of the best young talents in the world. After all Havertz was playing in the quarter-finals of the Europa League a little over a month ago. The 21-year-old has barely had a break since the end of last season and has been thrown straight in after his move from Bayer Leverkusen.
Yet Havertz’s class was obvious. He combined brilliantly with Tammy Abraham and although he needs to do more than destroy
Barnsley to justify the hype, Frank Lampard was delighted with the former Leverkusen attacker. “It was everything I wanted,” the Chelsea manager said. “He’s had no pre-season. It was a great night for Kai and the first of many.”
It was a satisfying night for Lampard. Thiago Silva had an authoritative debut in central defence and Abraham shone up front, although Callum Hudson-Odoi looked a little tentative after a week of speculation over his future. Hudson-Odoi’s attitude was good, though, and there were flashes of the winger’s ability. “I thought he did well,” Lampard said. “He looked sharp.”
Lampard’s selection demonstrated why he wants to trim his squad before the window shuts on 5 October. Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s absence summed up the competition for places and Antonio Rüdiger looks certain to leave after being left out of the squad for the second successive game. “Nothing is concrete,” Lampard said. “Don’t read too much into those selections at the minute.”
While Rüdiger was off nursing a bruised ego, there was an opportunity for Hudson-Odoi, who has been out in the cold of late. The winger had an opening to make his point to Lampard in the first minute, only to shoot too close to Brad Collins.
At times Hudson-Odoi seemed too eager to please. While the 19-year-old worked hard on the right, he needed to relax and follow
the example of Abraham, who was keen to show that he can compete with Timo Werner. The striker gave Chelsea the lead in the 18th minute, finishing well after a mix-up at the back.
But the stage belonged to Havertz. He was inventive in the No10 role and he scored his first goal in blue when Abraham dummied a pass from Mason Mount through to him. Havertz strode clear and finished calmly.
At the other end Chelsea were shaky, even with Silva alongside Fikayo Tomori. Emerson Palmieri struggled at left-back and Barnsley forced Willy Caballero to make far too many saves for Lampard’s liking.
It should have been harder for a Championship side to carve Chelsea open. Yet it is hard to see Rüdiger working his way back. Lampard has five centre-backs and he will not stand in Rüdiger’s way if Chelsea receive offers for the German.
Lampard wants more leadership at the back and Silva was vocal. The 36-year-old Brazilian had a good workout before making way for Kurt Zouma in the 61st minute.
Ross Barkley added a third with a firm shot and Havertz scored again in the 55th minute, clipping past Collins after a lovely flick from Abraham.
Havertz completed his hat-trick just after the hour, rounding Collins before tapping into the empty net, and then he made way for another debutant. Ben Chilwell came on and Chelsea, who will face Leyton Orient or Tottenham next, added a sixth when Olivier Giroud headed in after coming off the bench.