For the first time in quite a while, it looks like Chelsea players are enjoying themselves. They did have a good start to the season, but it’s been a couple of months since a win brought these kind of smiles to their faces. None looked to be having more fun than Fernando Torres, enjoying the best form he’s been in since joining the Blues.
These 8-0 wins do that to you. Eden Hazard was free to show his wide range of tricks and skills in the second half, with back heels, flicks and spins suddenly back in the picture, after everything we’ve seen from the Belgian star was a bit more pragmatic and tactical over the last couple of months. Under Rafa Benitez, playing in a wider role to the left, sometimes even a second striker, he seems to be slowly finding his game back.
How good were Chelsea, how bad were Aston Villa? The line has to be drawn somewhere, but you can’t take away from Chelsea’s hungry looking performance. Fernando Torres hit a header like someone smashes in a volley to open the scoring. In all competitions, going back to December 5 and the final Champions League match, Fernando Torres has scored 7 goals in 6 matches. Almost unheard of when you think of the formerly most depressed striker on the planet.
In order to give his midfield the certain kind of strength it needed, Benitez knew that he needed more than Lampard and Ramires. Both aren’t defensive midfielders, with Ramires more of a winger, just not used as one. David Luiz stepped in to the role, and did it wonderfully. Why not? When you have a centre back as talented and technically gifted as Luiz, playing against a weak-in-the-middle team like Aston Villa allows you to try someone who isn’t accustomed to the position. With his long range shooting, it even creates more chances for him to use his biggest offensive weapon, although his goal did come from a free kick.
Juan Mata had one of his quieter evenings, but there was no need for his cleverness to settle things down. Every touch, every attack Chelsea had, whether it was from Victor Moses or from Frank Lampard, a dangerous chance was created. Brad Guzan wasn’t perfect at goal, but he did stop a penalty kick as the referee showed no mercy towards the hopeless Aston Villa, and saved a few clear cut chances for goals, in a match that could have set a new Premier League record.
So is this the new Chelsea? Fun, young and with plenty of goals coming? Frank Lampard won’t have it so easy every time, regardless of the fine long range goal he scored. He was free to push forward in this one, but on other occasions, his role will once again be restricted to a more central and withdrawn position. With Juan Mata in the lineup, the attacking midfielder position of behind the striker is already taken.
That leaves Oscar on the bench, but the Brazilian seems to be so versatile in where he can play – Central midfielder, attacking midfielder and even on the wing. For now, he’s the odd man out in Benitez’ creative approach to his starting lineup, but he’s going to see 20-30 minutes every time, hoping that he does enough with them to win him a place in the first XI soon enough.