Hazard Finally Came To The Party
It’s no secret that Eden Hazard has been pretty poor this season The Belgian set himself incredibly high standards in the previous campaign and he has come nowhere near those levels so far.
However, he showed flashes from as early as the third minute here as he wound his way through the Stoke defence. He was by no means at the immense level that we know he can produce but there were signs that steps were being made. Some of his link up play with Oscar and Willian was a joy to watch.
Much of the talk has been of a fallout between Hazard and Jose Mourinho and with the Portuguese not present at this match, maybe his absence freed up the number 10 to express himself a little more.
Stoke Are A Team of Two Teams
The Potters have long been known for their aggressive defensive displays and tenacious style and that is still apparent under Mark Hughes. The Welshman did not take away the spirit and organisation developed by Tony Pulis, and that was evident here, especially in the first period.
However, what Sparky has done is added some genuine class and movement in the four attacking positions. Shaqiri and Bojan are constantly on the move and it was the Spaniard’s excellent pass that led to the opener. Arnautovic adds power and skill, while the endless running of Jonathan Walters is a constant annoyance.
The solidity of that back seven allows the quadruplet to concentrate on making things happen at the other end and there are signs that the Staffordshire outfit are clicking after a sketchy start to the season.
Costa Is Coming To The Boil
The Spanish striker has been a shadow of himself this term, scoring just two goals in the Premier League. He got the joy of facing the imposing figure of Ryan Shawcross here finally looked a little like the player we all hated and loved in equal measures in 2014/15.
The way he linked with the three players behind him offered encouragement and he looked a genuine threat throughout. Yes, he didn’t score but at least he showed that he can be a threat once again.
The Blues produced one of their best performances of the campaign and much of that is down to having Costa as an outlet on a regular basis. The ex-Ateltico man is crucial to the Pensioners recovery, if indeed they are to make an assault on the top four.
Mourinho’s Ban May Have Made Him Even More Untouchable
The Portuguese boss may not have been present at the ground but his presence was certainly felt in the stands.
Fans wore masks on their faces depicting the former Porto boss and constantly chanted Mourinho’s name throughout the game. There was even a full sized cardboard cut-out of the Blues manager making its way around the away end at the Britannia.
The supporters showed once again that they want the 52-year-old as their manager and he will have revelled in the images of fully grown men donning his face in Staffordshire. However, another loss could have a few of those fans questioning their loyalty to their manager.
It Might Be Time To Start Feeling A Bit Sorry For Chelsea
Now, this is hard for a lot of people to do, including myself. However, Chelsea didn’t actually do too much wrong in this match and they could very easily have won the game.
A lapse in concentration from Baba Rahman cost them a goal and from there you just got the sense that it was going to be another one of those days for the Blues.
There were positives to work on for Mourinho and it will be interesting to see if Roman Abramovich sticks or twists. This is a serious rut and everything is going against the west Londoners at the moment.