If there’s one player that has stood out after a week of Premier League football, it’s Eden Hazard of Chelsea with a goal and four assists in his first three matches, involved in pretty much everything good happening on the pitch. Fernando Torres isn’t as influential, but two goals in the first three matches are better than many had hoped for.
Three matches, three wins, nine points, 8-2 scoring record. For the first time this early in the season, Roberto Di Matteo was probably pleased from what he saw from his players. Again, Chelsea won a penalty kick; yes, another soft one. Eden Hazard stepped up instead of Frank Lampard to open his Premier League account. Later, just before half time, it was him that set up Fernando Torres’ second goal of the season in another fine display of passing skills.
Chelsea have a mighty trio up front, no one can argue with that anymore. Fernando Torres looks much more confident than in the previous 18 months with the club, even if he still isn’t at this best. Juan Mata and Eden Hazard provide so many opportunities and create so much space with their movement and ability to draw defender and find open men, Torres doesn’t need to be at his best to score goals. He just needs a bit of concentration and confidence, which is slowly coming back to him, also thanks to a successful Euro tournament.
The midfield that we complained about last week? Meireles and Obi Mikel had an easier job against Newcastle because the Magpies have no interest in working the ball through the middle. With two big and easy targets such as Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse upfront, the long balls seems to be the preferred way of delivery. Without a fragile John Terry in the lineup, David Luiz and Gary Cahill are more than capable of dealing with long ball threats, while Mikel had the freedom to move down and help them whenever possible.
Jonas Gutierrez provided no threat while Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye failed to show their usual quality in the middle. Vurnon Anita still needs a bit more time to feel at home, and Newcastle created some pressure in the second half that was from from enough against a comfortable Chelsea.
Di Matteo is still trying to find the right kind of combination in the middle. Frank Lampard did score two goals in the first two matches (from the penalty spot), but he was one of the worst players on the pitch in both matches, and has less and less to add with each passing game except for leadership and coolness from the penalty spot. In the long run, that just isn’t enough for a lineup spot on a team that wants to win the Premier League title.
Old guard? Didier Drogba is gone; John Terry was injured and Chelsea look better without him; Frank Lampard we already mentioned. AVB tried this revolution last season and it didn’t work. Di Matteo might have an easier time making Chlesea adjust to the new life and vision this season, with a bit more quality in his squad, while a player such as Oscar doesn’t even have a place for more than 15-20 minutes despite his price tag, and Di Matteo is trying to figure out whether Ramires, Meireles and Ryan Bertrand deserve to be constant members of the first XI.
Despite his options and worries regarding the midfield and defensive players, the most important thing for him is to keep this front three happy and thriving. Eden Hazard and Juan Mata look to be the players that will carry Chelsea on their shoulders this season. The better they do, the better Fernando Torres looks, and despite having far from the perfect squad in terms of quality and depth behind the front three, it just might be enough with a little bit of blending time.