Five Observations from Chelsea’s 3-0 victory over Stoke City
Mourinho claimed Chelsea’s title challenge was over following needless defeats at Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, but a performance of speed, purpose and quality reignited fading hopes as the Blues returned to the Premier League summit, crowned with goals from Mohamed Salah, Frank Lampard and a beauty from Willian.
Salah deserves to start more often
The Egyptian was excellent on his full debut and unfortunate not to have deservedly collected the Man Of The Match accolade after a terrific performance, pipped to the award by the superb Willian.
He scored wonderfully from Matic’s fantastic pull-back but his goal was only one element of an impressive individual display. He retained his propensity to cut in from his Basel days and wreaked havoc into the Stoke back-line, earning a penalty and assisting Willian for his goal. The 21 year-old was constantly a threat with his precarious incursions into the box as he put his rapid pace to effective use.
He, along with others, laid advanced cases for a starting berth against Paris Saint Germain on Tuesday evening.
Willian is effective in the central role
Willian excelled on an afternoon in which he duly received the Man of The Match award. He was instructed to feature in the centre of the attacking three behind Torres, a role unfamiliar to the Brazilian but he delivered emphatically.
He was energetic throughout, commonly dispossessing the disinclined Stoke contingent and driving his side forward, sparking offensive passages of play. His delightful curling strike capped of a highly gratifying afternoon for the 25 year-old.
Schurrle is a winger, not a striker
The German struggled up front at Old Trafford in August and again in Paris on Wednesday, but flourished here, even withdrawn by Mourinho in consideration of Tuesday’s encounter.
He was brilliant and departed to a warm round of applause from the home support, appreciative of his wonderful work ethic. He so often provided an option on the right flank and troubled Geoff Cameron, who was duly replaced at half-time.
He will start against PSG, it seems.
Matic is highly important for Chelsea
In Paris, as Chelsea languished to a damaging defeat, Mourinho’s side felt the full force of Matic’s ineligibility that evening, lacking any composure in central midfield.
His performance was, as usual, assured. The Serb, through his bulldozing drive and splendid pull-back, crafted Salah’s goal and was generally a reliable guard in front of our solid back-four.
He will inevitably be missed on Tuesday evening.
The Blues do not depend on Hazard
Eden Hazard was deservedly handed a break ahead of the challenges on the horizon as his team-mates proved they can cope adequately without him.
Schurrle replaced the Belgian on the right flank proficiently as he often bewildered Cameron with his pace. The attacking aspect of the hosts’ performance was impressive without Hazard’s enhancing presence.
After signs Chelsea had begun to depend on the 23 year-old, those premature concerns were comfortably eased.