Chelsea got off to a winning start with a 3-1 victory against Brighton but, while the scoreline looked comfortable, it was a far from a polished performance by the Blues.
One player who did stand out, though, was Ross Barkley who came on in the second half. The 26-year-old was credited for his contribution by manager Frank Lampard after the game:
“We ended up a little bit too advanced in high areas. Everybody [was] advanced. I felt that Ross would come and link it a bit more between the lines and just steady us down and get more passes in. He did that for us and that helped us gain a bit more control from then on.”
Supporters on Twitter have similarly recognised the impact that Barkley had when he replaced Ruben Loftus-Cheek:
Underrated player by Chelsea fans tbh RLC should be sold instead of him
— MO💎 (@La_Pioche__6) September 14, 2020
I want to say it. Glad we kept him.
— Chris Stephen (@reportingLibya) September 14, 2020
Yes. A big impact.
— Jowellyn (@JowellynA) September 14, 2020
He’s the only midfielder we have with the exception of Kovacic who actually is confident enough to carry the ball and move up the pitch. Lack of respect on Barkley’s name is fowl.
— Spencer Waller (@SpencerWaller16) September 14, 2020
BARKLEY IS A TOP PLAYER! STOP BLAME HIM IN EVERY GAME WHEN WE LOSE OR DON‘T PLAY WELL!! HE IS A FANTASTIC PLAYER!
— Nexho_11 (@Nexho__11) September 14, 2020
if his decision making in the final third was better then he’d be close to world class
— spencer (@washinmasheen) September 14, 2020
He’s been excellent. Huge upgrade from RLC
— Reasonable Citizen (@vaphreak) September 14, 2020
Barkley changed it
— ken T (@kkipkorir) September 14, 2020
Barkley is an extremely frustrating player to watch at times. There will be some games where he looks top class, while there are others where he struggles to make an impact, making poor decisions and being sloppy in possession.
That inconsistency doesn’t look like it will disappear from his game, and it’s likely he will only have a bit-role this season with the likes of Kai Havertz, Mason Mount and even Loftus-Cheek seemingly ahead of him in the pecking order.