League leaders Chelsea got back to winning ways in the Premier League on Saturday, with a comfortable 2-0 win against relegation zoned Hull City.
With Fabregas suspended, Chelsea still managed to create enough chances. The match saw its first goal on 7 minutes, when Eden Hazard scored through a header from an Oscar cross.
In the second half, the match was pretty much done and dusted when Tom Huddlestone made a lazy, late studs-up challenge on Filipe Luis and was immediately sent-off. Then on 68 minutes, Eden Hazard turned provider for Diego Costa, who scored his 12th goal of the season.
Let us see what we learnt from Chelsea’s victory over Hull City.
Hazard is a complete player
The ball was at Oscar’s feet, when he decided to cross it into the box from the left-hand edge of the penalty box. The cross may have been targeted at Costa, but the ball flew over his head, and Eden Hazard, of all people, springed up unmarked, and headed the ball into the net at the far post.
This was probably just the second time we have seen Eden Hazard scoring from a header in Chelsea colors. With a height of just 5 ft. 7 inches, heading is not generally what we associate with the otherwise brilliant Hazard. But against Hull, we saw that he has good aerial ability too. Even Jose Mourinho seemed surprised. He said of the goal:
“That he scored in the air, I was surprised. He jumps a lot but normally he closes his eyes. So I was surprised, but very good goal.”
Blessed with exceptional dribbling skills, speed, balance, shooting accuracy and passing, Hazard, with his header against Hull City, seemed to tick off the last remaining box beside the only skill that had ever been in doubt.
Chelsea need to put a hold on the number of yellow cards
Chelsea players have been getting booked quite often this season. Cesc Fabregas was missing from the action for accumulating 5 yellow cards in previous games. We have already seen one of Chelsea’s most important players, Nemanja Matic miss the crucial tie against Newcastle United, which Chelsea eventually lost 2-0.
Earlier, Diego Costa had missed the London derby against Tottenham Hotspur, although Didier Drogba and Loic Remy’s finishing prowess made up for his absence on that occasion. Against Hull City, three Chelsea players got their name in the referee’s book, and two of them for simulation.
Willian went down without any contact whatsoever as Curtis Davies tried to dispossess him, and was booked for diving. Cahill was next, with a stud-raised challenge on Aluko, who needed treatment. And finally Diego Costa was booked for a dive too. Chelsea players must improve their tackling, if they are to avoid suspension, which may prove to be costly against tougher opposition.
Filipe Luis is competition for Azpilicueta
Having been signed from Atletico Madrid as a replacement for Ashley Cole, who departed for AS Roma, Filipe Luis has had to wait for his opportunities, owing to the phenomenal performances of Cesar Azpilicueta in the unusual left back position. Luis had a great game against Sporting CP in the UEFA Champions league last Wednesday and was handed a rare start in the Premier League, only the first after the 2-1 win against QPR in early November.
However, his performances have always been satisfying, if not overtly amazing. Against Hull City he got forward whenever he got the chance, but never failed at his defensive duties. He rarely mispassed and looked extremely comfortable with ball. With his inherent ability to keep possession, Luis seems to be a very valuable asset. And just like Chelsea’s regular left back Cesar Azpilicueta, Filipe Luis never seemed to look low on energy. With December being the busiest month in terms of fixtures, Mourinho will have to rotate his squad, and with the performances of Luis, he will prove to be a competition for a starting berth at left back.
Branislav Ivanovic is the best right back in the Premier League
Cesar Azpilicueta, Chelsea’s regular left back, was dubbed as the best defender in the Premier League by Manchester United legend Gary Neville few months ago. However many fail to notice that it is Branislav Ivanovic, who is keeping this “best defender” out of position.
Consistency seems to be the other name of Ivanovic. Week in week out, he produces impressive performances, swashbuckling down the right flank all through out the 90 minutes. He may have been at fault for a few defensive lapses at the start of the season, most notably against Swansea City, but he has been absolutely fantastic since then. Moreover he is a goal scoring defender. He has notched up 2 goals this season from 14 appearances, which is no mean feat for a right back.
Even at the age of 30, Ivanovic is showing no signs of slowing down, with a phenomenal 1890 minutes of football this season, comprising 16 and 5 starts in the Premier League and Champions League respectively, and playing almost all of them for the full 90 minutes. With almost 4 clearances per match, it is hard to see a better defender at the moment.
Costa is back
After going through a drought in front of goal for four matches, Diego Costa finally found the back of the net, with a composed first-time finish into the bottom-left corner of goal, from Hazard’s pass inside the box. Diego Costa has not been fully fit for quite some time according to Jose Mourinho, with illness and niggling injuries keeping him from his prime condition. But after Costa scored his 12th goal from 13 appearances in the Premier League, Mourinho was fast to heap praise on him. He said:
“I am happy with Diego too. Not because of the goal, the goal is not important, but the movement, the happiness in legs, the dynamic he brought and the way he was pressing. It looked to me that in this moment he is free of fear.”
Chelsea fans will hope that this goal does a whole lot for his confidence, and he resumes his goal scoring form in the matches to come.
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni