Sunday 25 February 2018

Five things we learned from Chelsea's dramatic victory over Everton

Diego Costa congratulates Willian of Chelsea after he scored against Everton during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridg
Diego Costa congratulates Willian of Chelsea after he scored against Everton during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridg

Daniel Johnson

Juan Cuadrado impresses in his first Premier League start, but Diego Costa cannot return soon enough for Jose Mourinho

1. Cuadrado for Schurrle is an absolute steal

Andre Schurrle - sold for £24 million. Juan Cuadrado - bought for £27 million.

Even offshore tax advisors – many of whom were probably in attendance at Stamford Bridge - couldn’t compete with that.

A £3 million net loss seems like an absolute steal even on the small evidence of Cuadrado’s first start at Stamford Bridge. Where Schurrle was enterprising but ultimately impotent, Cuadrado looked direct and dangerous from the beginning.

Adapting to the pace of the Premier League will take time. Imposing himself alongside the likes of Willian, Oscar and Hazard is no easy task. But he is already a dramatic improvement on what came before.

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Juan Cuadrado of Chelsea runs during their English Premier League soccer match against Everton at Stamford Bridge, London, February 11, 2015. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR 'LIVE' SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS.

2. Remy and Drogba don’t come close to filling Costa’s boots

Loic Remy was on the front of the programme but he never quite lived up to the billing.

How pleased Jose Mourinho will be to see Diego Costa back after his three-match suspension. Remy was lively but never lethal here.

Early on, played in by Cuadrado, he dragged his shot harmlessly wide of the post. You never got the feeling that the Everton defenders were terrorized by the Frenchman, who has just five goals to his name this season.

When Costa is fit – and staying out of trouble – Chelsea are an incredibly potent force. But without that spearhead there is a weak link in their attacking armoury.

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Didier Drogba (R) of Chelsea is fouled by Datren Gibson of Everton during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge, London, February 11, 2015. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR 'LIVE' SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS.

3. Matic is indispensable for Chelsea

Ahead of this fixture, there was plenty of excitement at the possible return of Cesc Fabregas from injury, but despite the Spaniard’s flair, it is Nemanja Matic Chelsea cannot afford to lose in the heart of midfield.

 Making his 50th appearance for the club against Everton, Matic is the central cog in the Chelsea machine, assuredly protecting the back four, mopping up where’s needed, and so quickly turning defence into attack.

Inside the first few minutes, he shrugged off two Everton players, comfortably strode forward and was not far away with his shot on goal. He is a calming influence across the pitch.

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Nemanja Matic (L) of Chelsea challenges Ross Barkley of Everton during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge, London, February 11, 2015. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR 'LIVE' SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS.

4. Mourinho was right to let Romelu Lukaku go

£28 million isn’t bad for a reject but Romelu Lukaku didn’t even live up to that price tag on his return to Stamford Bridge. Signed as a long-term replacement for Didier Drogba at 18, then shown the door last summer, Lukaku will have wanted to prove a point to Mourinho. It didn’t happen for the Belgian.

His hold-up play was solid, yet he offered little else in front of goal. His first chance came early in the first half, but he scuffed his shot at Cech’s feet. And on 70 minutes, with a golden opportunity, he fired at the keeper from about two yards. Another good bit of business by Mourinho.

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Everton's Romelu Lukaku battles for the ball with Chelsea's Kurt Zouma (left) during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 11, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Chelsea. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

5. Despite the win, the title race isn't over just yet

Willian scored for Chelsea at the death, like all title-winning sides do, but there is hope for Manchester City yet. The domestic television rights for the Premier League were sold for £5.1 billion for a reason: the unpredictability of this division. The footballing consensus in recent days has been that Chelsea are a shoo-in for the title. Everton would be swept aside, so the narrative went.

Firm favourites Chelsea may be, but performances like this, against a stubborn, well-organised side show they have plenty more to do than stroll to the title. For all their attacking prowess and pressure here, clear-cut chances were in short supply. The return of Diego Costa will help, but there is hope for Manchester City yet.

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File photo dated 11-02-2015 of Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic holds back Everton's James McCarthy during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday February 12, 2015. Jose Mourinho threatened to walk out of his post-match media conference when asked about an apparent headbutt by Branislav Ivanovic after a last-gasp 1-0 defeat of Everton consolidated the Premier League leaders' seven-point advantage. See PA story SOCCER Chelsea. Photo credit should read Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Telegraph.co.uk

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