Jamie O’Hara has named Noni Madueke as one of Chelsea’s standout performers in their 3-1 FA Cup fourth-round replay win against Aston Villa on Wednesday (February 7).
The Blues put a miserable 4-2 loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the league behind them on Wednesday night. They sailed to victory at Villa Park courtesy of goals from Conor Gallagher, Nicolas Jackson, and Enzo Fernandez.
Chelsea were superior throughout the night with many expecting them to bow out of the FA Cup against one of this season’s surprise packages. But, Mauricio Pochettino got a reaction from his players who were hurting from their home defeat to Wolves.
Madueke started the game on the right flank and impressed for the Blues. The English winger assisted Gallagher for the opener in the 11th minute with a clever pass. He also made three key passes, won five of nine ground duels, and completed three of five dribble attempts successfully.
O’Hara lavished praise on the 21-year-old and insisted it was the best performance he’d seen from him. The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder told talkSPORT (via The Chelsea Chronicle):
“He (Madueke) was gliding past players. It’s the best I’ve seen him play.”
Madueke has had a mixed spell at Stamford Bridge, lacking a consistent run in the first team. This is why O’Hara was left somewhat surprised by his impressive outing at Villa Park:
“I’ll tell you who was brilliant tonight, I have to say Madueke. I didn’t really know much about the guy and when I’ve watched him I’ve not been completely convinced that he’s anything special.”
“But tonight he was quick, he took the ball past players, he drifted past players, he was direct in his play. I’ve just not seen that in him at all.”
Madueke has appeared 18 times across competitions this season, with four goals and one assist. The England U21 international will be looking to hold down the right-wing position ahead of the Carabao Cup final against Liverpool (February 25).
Mauricio Pochettino on how Chelsea’s Noni Madueke proved a point earlier this season
Madueke appeared to voice his issues with his lack of game time to Pochettino earlier this season. He was granted an opportunity when he came on in the 71st minute of a 2-1 win against Crystal Palace in the league (December 27).
The former PSV Eindhoven won and converted an 89th-minute penalty to give Chelsea a vital win against Palace. He earned plaudits following that game including from his manager.
Pochettino explained how Madueke proved a point with his 20-minute cameo. He said (via GOAL):
“I like it because he showed he was upset with me. He was disappointed with me because he didn’t play too much — also because he’s been injured. But now he says ‘I’m going to show the coach he can trust in myself.’ They need to show me I can trust them, mentality is important.”
Madueke joined Chelsea from PSV in January 2023 for a reported €35 million. He’s vying with the likes of Cole Palmer, Mykhailo Mudryk and Raheem Sterling for a starting berth under the Argentine coach.