Chelsea went second with a 4-1 victory over Cardiff City on Saturday. On paper you’d think that Chelsea cruised to victory, but the truth was not quite so straight forward. Sitting in second place though, what can we make of Chelsea’s start to the season?
Grinding out results
Chelsea were in a ‘crisis’ according to some onlookers after the side went four games without a win in all competitions, including defeat at home in the Champions League opener and a 1-0 away defeat to Everton in the league. Since then though Chelsea have been in good form winning six in their last seven in all competitions, with the only slip-up a decent 1-1 draw at Spurs.
All of this contributes to the image that Chelsea have been in great form. On paper, they have. That being said, things have not been smooth sailing for Chelsea. Chelsea were drawing 1-1 with Norwich and were under a degree of pressure before two late goals from Eden Hazard and Willian made it 3-1 to Chelsea and got the club three points. Chelsea were not amazing against Cardiff either, despite seemingly cruising to a 4-1 victory. Chelsea went 1-0 down after a terrible David Luiz error gifted Cardiff the opener.
Chelsea did not exactly come flying back at Cardiff and were likewise gifted the equalizer when David Marshall bounced the ball in front of Samuel Eto’o, which led to a goal mouth scramble in which Eden Hazard capitalized.
Chelsea actually allowed Cardiff 13 shots on goal during the game, which is quite a high number to concede when playing at home. Things also threatened to get frantic when Mourinho switched to a three man back line and brought on Fernando Torres to partner Eto’o, who got the second goal for Chelsea. Chelsea did go on and slaughter Cardiff on the break to make it 4-1, but it was far from their most convincing performance. Of course getting the three points, and six points from six over their last two games, was crucial, but there is a lot of room for improvement.
Chelsea fans will be pleased that the club are sitting second in the league despite not firing on all cylinders. Jose Mourinho has admitted he’s not sure of his best side so it may take him a while to truly figure out what works and what doesn’t, as well as how best to utilize his key players. The form of Oscar in particular, who has now scored four times domestically for Chelsea in just six starts, is real cause for optimism.
One further area of promise has been how pro-active Jose Mourinho has been when his side are struggling. In both of Chelsea’s last two Premier League games he has responded quickly to force a change, both times going for a back three and loading on attacking players in search of a goal. Both substitutes scored against Norwich to make it 3-1, whilst Oscar came off the bench to score against Cardiff and Chelsea genuinely looked too strong on the break after the changes. Mourinho definitely has a strong bench at his disposal. Last season the club would call upon Marko Marin or Yossi Benayoun to change the game, this season they have Eden Hazard and Willian versus Norwich, as well as Fernando Torres and Oscar against Cardiff.
Chelsea’s form has been good in the sense that they’ve been getting the results that they need to progress. Now just two points off the top the club are looking good. Next weekend though they host Manchester City, who have not had the best joy on the road thus far this season. This might be the first ‘real’ test for Jose Mourinho and will help us truly analyze whether Chelsea have really come up a level.