It seems that every week is a new lesson for Jose Mourinho about the idiosyncrasies of his team. This week’s lesson? Andre Schurrle should always start, and Willian is finally start to look like a player who cost as much as he did, with the two of them being the driving force behind Chelsea beating Schalke 3-0.
Something that must be said about the Premier League – it’s a lot tougher sometimes than matches in the Champions League, as funny as that sounds. Maybe it’s because of Platini weakening the group stage, and maybe it’s simply because of the way teams approach Chelsea, especially when they play away from home.
Early minutes didn’t favor the Blues, who allowed to much space to Julian Draxler, which created three very good chances for Schalke to take advantage of. Life is hard for the team without Huntelaar, while Adam Szalai is proving this season he isn’t exactly a world class striker some thought he was last season.
If Chelsea’s opening goal was a combination of irresponsible goalkeeping and the sneakiness of Samuel Eto’o, the rest of the way was much better. Schalke aren’t a team that know how to buckle down and defend for a certain result, leaving plenty of space for Willian and Schurrle to attack the defenders in front of them. The second goal came from a Willian assist to Sameul Eto’o, scoring a ‘real’ striker’s goal on that one, which combined accuracy and speed, which is something Mourinho would like to see more of from his creative players.
The third goal was Frank Lampard with a smart chip, but a play that began once again with Willian in his best performance for the team since arriving from Anzhi. Demba Ba was on the finishing end, in a rare cameo for the Senegalese striker, who has been pushed to the edge of the rotation over the last couple of months.
Was this the real Chelsea, or was the loss at Newcastle more than just a clip on their wing? Probably the former. Chelsea aren’t perfect, and Jose Mourinho is still working out what is his ideal lineup, if there even is such a thing, but beating Schalke twice without a hint of a problem does tell of a certain strength and formidable form.
Samuel Eto’o provided his best match in Chelsea uniform, looking less and less rusty as time goes by. It doesn’t mean that Mourinho’s rotation between him and Fernando Torres will stop, but it might mean that after losing to Newcastle, Eto’o once again has the edge at the striker position.
Eden Hazard wasn’t even in the squad, as rumors of him missing training this week caused his expulsion from the final selection. If that’s true, the competition for one of the three starting spots just got thinner, with Andre Schurrle, who has played well with every opportunity he’s gotten so far, being the main beneficiary from that change in Mourinho’s view of his hierarchy.