Having booked their place in a third successive FA Cup final on Sunday with victory over Crystal Palace at Wembley, Chelsea were brought crashing back down to earth in midweek as they succumbed to a shock 4-2 defeat to Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.
A thrilling opening 45 minutes saw the Blues twice draw level after being pegged back by their top-four chasing rivals, although another shoddy showing after the break ultimately proved costly for the hosts, as England international Bukayo Saka added late gloss to the scoreline with a stoppage-time spot-kick.
While such a result should do little to weaken the west London outfit’s grip on third place in the Premier League table, it has potentially served as something of a warning sign, with manager Thomas Tuchel now more acutely aware of who he can and cannot rely upon moving forward.
One man who should well be cast aside is Malang Sarr, with the 23-year-old producing an erratic display on what was his first Premier League start for over a month, having largely been afforded a watching brief since joining the club from Nice in the summer of 2020.
The free transfer arrival has made just 19 appearances in all competitions for the Blues over the last two seasons, with the recent evidence suggesting that he may not be adding to that tally too often in the future, such was the dismal nature of his display on Wednesday night.
Not only was he seemingly at fault for the visitors’ third goal of the night – producing a tame attempted clearance which fell to the feet of Eddie Nketiah – yet his all-around performance was lacking in quality, leading talkSPORT pundit Dean Saunders to dub him a “shambles”.
The Frenchman – who had been thrust back into the side in place of the injured Antonio Rudiger – picked up just a 6.4 match rating for his 90-minute display, notably losing possession on 22 occasions, making zero interceptions and getting dribbled past three times, as per SofaScore.
That showing led to criticism from club legend Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, although it is not the first time that the centre-back has come under fire this season, with pundit Micah Richards suggesting he is “not aggressive enough” after the FA Cup win over Luton Town last month.
The £7.2m-rated man was, in fairness, making just a sixth league start of the campaign against Mikel Arteta’s side, although he can have little complaint should he be consigned to the bench against West Ham United this weekend.
The end to the season had potentially offered the former France U21 international the chance to stake his claim in Tuchel’s thoughts ahead of next term, ahead of a possible defensive exodus in the summer, although now it would appear his latest outing has only done his chances more harm than good.
If Chelsea wish to get back to winning ways on Sunday, then the former Paris Saint-Germain boss must surely axe the 6-foot defender.