There is certainly a feeling of vulnerability at Stamford Bridge at the moment. Every time it looks like the Blues should be well on the way to another 3 points the opposition manage to make a game of it. Whether, like at Hull a couple of weeks ago, where Chelsea squandered a 2 goal lead, leaving it late to win the game, or today , where Stoke’s Charlie Adam caught Courtois off guard to score from 60 yards, within a couple of minutes of Hazard converting a 39th minute penalty.
It’s always a nail-biting time of the season with the stakes so high, but the Champions elect seem to be making much harder weather of it than should be necessary.
Jose has already declared that our rear guard may need some new blood come next season, but it wasnt all that long ago that the Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry , Azpilicueta and Courtois looked impenetrable. What happened. I still feel that Nemanja Matic’s slight loss of form following his red card against Burnley is the root of the change in fortune for our back line. Before that point, he literally stopped anything and everything from getting thru into the last third of the pitch. So maybe our boys as the back flattered to deceive. There has definitely been a loss of confidence that has spread all the way back to the keeper.
Courtois’s will certainly not be helped by the slapstickesque embarrassment of conceding from Adam’s 3 point conversion from within his own half.
Anyway, the good news is that we won in the end and there seems little chance of Mourinho’s thoroughbreds doing a Devon Lock!
When all is said and done, Eden Hazard looks to be a dead cert to win the EPL player of the season. The Belgian is probably the only Chelsea player who is at the top of his game right now and my goodness how we are reliant upon him at this stage of proceedings. He continues to be hacked to high heaven in every game. Smartly, on his part, he is back in the good books of the referees and by laying off the diving etc.. he is now getting more of the “well deserved” benefit of the doubt from the man in Black.
Today Chelsea showed some signs of the team that should and still could run away with this years title. As mentioned Eden Hazard ran amuck once anywhere near the penalty box.
Willian had a very solid game in midfield his energy both defensively and in attack continues to be infectious. He was also a very productive supply outlet down the right hand side.
Cesc was looking much sharper, he made a number of his signature slide rule passes, enabling Oscar, Hazard and Remy to have more efforts on goal.
Azpilicueta,had a much more prevalent game, threatening the Stoke defense with overlapping runs, although Ivanovic on the other side of the pitch has become invisible in an attacking sense, certainly compared to earlier in the campaign.
Luic Remy continues to impress when he gets the chance. He worked well with Hazard and Oscar to create a number of chances in the first half. He was also the scorer of the winning goal on 62 mins when Hazard unselfishly tee’d him up for a tap in. With Diego Costa pulling up lame again after less than 15 minutes on the park , we will probably be looking to our French striker to see us through the latter stages of this campanign.
It was somewhat surprising then, that the goal was Remy’s last touch of the match. Jose had already decided to swap him out for new boy Cuadrado, But once he scored, surely a change of heart by leaving him out there would have done wonders for his confidence.
On the subject of Cuadrado, it is obvious that he has a way to go before he is “on-tempo” with the pace of the Premier League. I honestly don’t see why Mourinho is even chancing his arm with so much at stake. I can’t believe it’s doing the Colombian winger’s confidence any good being shown to be so out of his league, at a time when the Stamford Bridge crowd is on tenterhooks and having little in the way of patience for mistakes or sub-par performances.
As we mathematically close in on our next Premiership title, a return to real form feels like it might be coming. The odds of QPR putting back to back performances together are highly unlikely so lets hope we see our team rout the R’s on the short trip to Shepherds Bush next week.
Lets look forward to finally putting Wenger out of his Tantalus misery and getting Arsenal back to concentrating on the FA Cup.