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Another Happy Invasion Of Southampton
With the hyped pairing of Liverfools and Manchester Mercenaries having to make do with a bore draw, Chelsea have been able to climb back to second position in the league, on a share of the same points as the aforementioned duo, courtesy of yet another routine win over a fragile Southampton. This was Chelsea's third win of 2018 against the mediocre Saints. There was a concern that once more our dominance would not translate into goals, but three accurate efforts was a fine tonic for the high-flying visitors.
The Blues secured their second successive triumph in this tournament, with a clean sheet too, but they made extremely hard work of overcoming their Hungarian opponents. It took until deep into the second half for the misfiring misfit that is Morata to finally score from close range. He really needs to poach more goals in such circumstances, but evidently he doesn't. Still, his puny total of two goals this season are two more than Olivier Giroud, the great bearded tit. Anyhow, in spite of missing a host of chances, the home team look well-placed to qualify for the knockout stages of this competition. However, it is a matter of some concern for their domestic ambitions if they struggle to score, without relying always upon the red-hot Hazard.
A Fair Result
Although Chelsea appeared to be relatively comfortable at soaking up and coping with Liverfools' incessant attacking, they can't really complain about dropping two vital points in the dying minutes. Firstly, Sturridge's wonder strike was so freakishly good that few, if any, goalkeepers would have even got fingertips to it, and it was an equaliser worthy of one point. Secondly, Chelsea reverted depressingly from Sarri mode to Conte bus-parking mode. It's all very well the untouchable Hazard firing home another excellent goal, this time with his left foot, but when the team gradually retreats to their final third of the pitch, they revisit the tiresome old territory of a boxer clinging on to the ropes, desperately trying to avoid a knockout punch. It didn't make for pleasant viewing, watching Chelsea consign themselves to wave after wave of Liverpoo attacks. In that kind of climate, it's almost inevitable that a goal will be conceded against quality opposition - and so it came to pass. At least the hosts ended the Kopites' flawless start in the league, but it could easily have been a crucial three points, if the home team had been more competitive in midfield and not simply surrendered cheap possession time and again.
Hazard's Marvellous Winner
Listening to the first half on Blokesport, it sounded like Chelsea were quickest out of the traps and bossed the first half hour. However, in the absence of a lethal striker, they were always going to struggle to translate any superiority into goals. However, when I watched the second half, the match had been transformed into one of total dominance by the Kopites. It was they who deservedly took the lead after a close range strike from Daniel Sturridge.
It had to happen eventually, and so it came to pass. Chelsea failed to score for the first time in the league this season, and in the process could not maintain their perfect start. West Ham United were always a likely banana skin, as our record away to them in recent years is a bit ropey. In the event, the Hammers imitated the Magpies by largely shutting up shop, and only occasionally offering an attacking threat. That said, Yarmolenko contrived to miss a gift-wrapped opportunity when he headed narrowly wide, with Kepa the keeper rooted to the spot.
Another Good Start
Since a woeful Community Shield outing, Chelsea have gone from strength to strength. After a great start to the league, culminating in five straight wins, the Blues have preserved their winning start by also claiming maximum points from their first European excursion of the season. Young Barkley expertly fed Willian and the Brazilian ace found the back of the net, with the help of some poor goalkeeping. Thereafter the hosts' goalkeeper twice denied Pedro, while the misfiring Morata also twice went narrowly wide. The visitors would have taken this score if they had been offered it beforehand, and whilst a clean sheet is cause for optimism, a failure to add to the early goal is cause for concern. That said, our main goal threat, Monsieur Hazard, was rested in preparation for our awkward assignment in east London this Sunday afternoon. Is anyone getting bored with this winning sequence? Not Blues fans, that's for sure!
Hazard's Triple Whammy
Whilst all the hype focuses on Liverfools' cosmic start to the league campaign, Chelsea continue to defy the media luvvies by matching the Kopites stride for stride. In fact Sarri's troops have only gone and marched to the top of the charts. Cardiff City were expected to leave empty-handed, but it was they who led in the opening half hour. Arrizabalaga has probably conceded more goals than made saves so far in the early weeks of his Chelsea career. Let's hope that he starts keeping the ball out of the net more often, because after all that's what he has been handsomely paid to do.
A Fourth Straight Win!
For the second week running, the Blues had to be extremely patient against bus-parking opponents and scored twice again deep into the second half. Pedro is in a rich vein of goal scoring form, and he finally opened the scoring with a decent strike from the edge of the penalty area. The excellent Hazard took a pass from Alonso and stroked home the decisive second. It was good to achieve a clean sheet and it's heartening to reel off four straight wins at the start of the league campaign. Bigger challenges lie ahead, but Sarri's brave new world is ticking along very nicely indeed.
Happiness On Tyneside
The media luvvies and assorted experts have decreed that this is merely a "transition year" for Chelsea. Transition year is frequently a euphemism for under-achievement. Well, three wins from three league outings represents a darn good transition year to me. In this peculiar encounter, Benitez instructed his troops to defend deep and defend in numbers, play for a goalless draw or maybe mug Chelsea with a breakaway goal. Their anti-football approach finally got its comeuppance when Chelsea's constant but fruitless probing finally resulted in the awarding of a contentious penalty. Alonso was partially impeded, but it was a soft penalty. However when you attack often, you may end up with a soft penalty or free kick, and moreover if you defend too much, then you're liable to incur yellow cards, red cards, and soft penalties. Therefore Newcastle brought on their own misfortunes courtesy of their blatant negativity. In the event the great Hazard fired home an accurate spot kick.
Crazy First Half, Marvellous Result
Chelsea returned to winning ways against Arsenic - something they seemed incapable of doing when Antonio Conte was in charge. It took the Spanish trio of Pedro, Morata, and Alonso to provide the goals. The league table currently consists of us in the top four with Arseholes and West Ham United in the relegation zone! Tis my kind of league table.