There were a few surprising names in the first lineup used by Jose Mourinho on his Chelsea return, one of them being Fernando Torres, who didn’t look like someone who is going to play a vital part on the new look team.
But Torres was just as involved as anyone else as Jose Mourinho got most of the attention from the fans that have waited all summer long for this renewed debut at the club, like all the problems of the past between him and his owner has disappeared in recent years.
Other surprises were the exclusion of David Luiz, who wasn’t even on the bench for the day, while Gary Cahill started next John Terry in the center of defense, while Branislav Ivanovic was the one who filled the right back position, and Kevin de Bruyne, who was probably the best player on the pitch, getting the start instead of Juan Mata, spending the entire match on the bench.
Was it a perfect debut? It started out that way, with immense pressure and some impressive passing combination that involved De Bruyne, Oscar, Hazard and Torres. Mourinho still doesn’t have the perfect answer to the issue in the defensive midfield, which for now is filled with Ramires and Frank Lampard, who didn’t have a very high-end opposition to trouble them.
But what early enthusiasm to prove to their boss that they’re going to give him everything didn’t last for very long. Hull City simply stopped trying to play football, and it showed as Chelsea failed to really do anything dangerous during the second half. Eden Hazard was lost on the left wing which managers insist on putting him in, while Kevin de Bruyne suddenly didn’t look like the huge hit he did during the first 25 minutes of the match.
Maybe Mata was on the bench because of fatigue, and having less rest than others this summer, not to mention returning quite late from the international break. But it’s easy to see that despite Mourinho’s “subtle” criticism of his predecessors, he too is using the three attacking midfielders approach, with Oscar and Hazard on the wings, which probably creates some overlapping moments between players who are all trying to find themselves in the middle.
As for his striker situation, Torres is once against depending on space created for him by the playmakers behind him. When they love holding on to the ball a bit too much while the defenses he faces stay a little bit too close to the goalline, there isn’t a lot he can do in his older, less efficient version.
Frank Lampard continues to be a hard to explain phenomenon. A bad penalty kick, followed by an amazing free kick, that shouldn’t have been called. But in terms of contributing to the match and being dominant in the middle of the pitch? There might be better options out there for Chelsea to use, only against Hull City Lampard’s deficiency in the middle of the pitch doesn’t really matter that much, and you can focus on his ease of creating chances for himself. Against tougher opposition it won’t be that simple.