Pedro played his most complete game in a Chelsea shirt against Watford on Saturday. He showed up everywhere on the pitch at just the right time, putting his energy and speed to its best use.
Normally Pedro scores his long-range, curling, goal-of-the-month contenders late in the first half, after having done not much at all to that point. The goal justifies him staying on until the usual round of substitutions kick off in the 70′, a point he reaches after any number of “wtf,” “ffs” and “lol” moments.
He flipped all of that script against Watford. He opened the scoring with his long-range, curling, goal-of-the-month contender just 12 minutes into the game. He then spent the next 74 minutes running the board – and the entirety of the pitch.
At one point or another, Pedro played every position other than goalkeeper. Pedro covered an N’Golo Kante amount of mileage on the pitch. Nominally the left wing, he pressured Watford’s forwards threatening deep towards Chelsea’s goal line. He made a textbook tackle on the left of Chelsea’s third. As he moved through midfield, he would make Cesc Fabregas-style long through-passes to Eden Hazard or Fabregas himself.
He pressed Watford deep in their zone, and would scamper to the other side of the pitch to arrest the Hornets’ movement across midfield. If he was successful, he was right back on his horse pushing the attack.
All those games where he seemingly vanished into Chelsea’s midfield paid off as he made the passes and presses of a box-to-box midfielder, without neglecting his role in Chelsea’s attack. Pedro’s full-pitch movement – vertically and horizontally – belied the simple description of him as a left winger in a 3-4-3. Pedro and Eden Hazard both played more of Hazard’s usual free-range role on offence, with Pedro doing much more coming back on the ball. This gave Chelsea the look of a 3-5-2 or 3-4-1-2.
Pedro’s performance came exactly when Chelsea needed it most. The Blues could have let fatigue overcome desire, and Watford may have even planned for a dead-legged side dealing with fixture build-up. Pedro personally shattered that perception, and his pace of play precluded his teammates from any less.
With Chelsea missing key players, Pedro filled in. He mitigated the absences of Victor Moses and N’Golo Kante, lending a hand to the defence, the midfield and the wing-backs as necessary.
Chelsea needed a top performance from a big-game player, one who can create goals from nothing and can make the game his own. Normally, that call goes out to Eden Hazard. Pedro answered this time, and the Blues have him to thank for a resilient win.