Coming into this fixture, the pressure was mounting on the Blues and Mourinho was in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Being defeated from teams like Southampton and Porto before the International break, Chelsea needed to come back stronger, and they did exactly that today.
While it was not in a grandstand fashion that Chelsea fans would have liked, a win is a win as Chelsea progressed towards the top half of the League.
Here are 5 things that we learned.
1. Though they won the match – Chelsea still looked way short of their best
For a team that is defending their title in the Premier League, it is safe to say that everything hasn’t gone according to the plan for the blues. While they needed today’s fixture as a springboard to come back into their stride, it took their fans an Alan Hutton own goal to breathe a sigh of relief.
Thus, while they got their first win in 4 games, Chelsea are still looking a team that is running short of confidence.
2. Top 4 is a Realistic Target for Chelsea
No matter how much we try to demoralize Chelsea after their stuttering start to the Premier League, today’s win and the results surrounding it epitomize the fact that top 4 is more than a realistic target for the Blues this Season.
Looking at their rivals for a top 4 spot, both Liverpool and Tottenham had to share a stalemate while Arsenal was playing late in the day. Manchester United won a tricky fixture with relative ease. Thus, it leaves the fourth Champions League place and three competitors: Chelsea, Liverpool, and Tottenham.
Thus, when the pedigree of Mourinho along with his experience of managing at the top level put into perspective, it would be a huge surprise if Chelsea doesn’t finish in the top 4 come end of May.
3. Brad Guzan had a shocker today at Stamford Bridge
For a team like Aston Villa that hadn’t won a single fixture since the opening day of the Premier League, the last thing that they need is their keeper to undergo a bad patch of form. Sadly for Aston Villa and Tim Sherwood, their keeper was the weakest link in their starting lineup today.
It was his poor clearance that led to the opener of Chelsea and made the task insurmountable for Villains. Thus, with January transfer window approaching, Aston Villa should go in the market in search of a new keeper.
4. Diego Costa needs to shine consistently if Chelsea are to salvage their reputation
For a striker that constantly runs himself into trouble by making questionable decisions, it would be a bit dangerous for Chelsea to pin their hopes on Diego Costa. However, with Eden Hazard still misfiring after his comparison with Ronaldo, Cesc Fabregas suffering from a 2nd Season syndrome and Oscar running out of confidence, the Spaniard is the best bet for Chelsea if they are to mount any serious challenge this Season.
5. Playing Reuben Loftus Cheek in the Number 10 role won’t benefit him or Chelsea
Before Coming into Saturday afternoon’s contest, the pressure was mounting on Jose Mourinho to ditch Nemanja Matic in favor of the Englishman. After all the performances that Matic has given this Season, it was a demand that seemed fairly reasonable from the Chelsea fans.
However, while Mourinho acknowledged to ditch Matic, he did so with a strategy that didn’t benefit Chelsea today. At 23-years of age, Loftus-Cheek should be played at his base position – and not at the Number 10 role where he was posted today.