Within seven minutes of the first match of the new season Chelsea were up 0 v 2 against a sleepy Wigan team that were obviously suffering from early season nerves. The first goal was a terrific finish from Ivanovic, the second from a (slightly lucky) penalty from super Franky Lampard.
Ivanovic's lung busting run got him in the perfect position to get on the end of a defence-splitting pass from Hazard (who had spun his marker brilliantly). And it was also Hazard who was bundled over in the area to win us the penalty. So it's fair to say that Hazard looks well up for the EPL!
When you remember that the Latics have endured 6-0 and 8-0 defeats by Chelsea in recent seasons, the home fans at the DW Stadium must have feared the worst after Chelsea went 0 v 2 up so early on...but unfortunately those fears were unfounded, as our two goals were our only two shots for the rest of the first half. And, truth be told, the second half wasn't that much better. As Chelsea decided to stay in cruise control, rather than step it up a gear (or two) to finish off the game. (Have we learnt nothing about the importance of goal difference come the end of the season?)
The take out from this game is that Hazard ISN'T our new Robben (as many had hoped), but instead looks more like our new Joe Cole. Which is another way of saying he's a tricky player with a GREAT turn / turn of pace, rather than an explosive skillmeister who will take on (and beat) half a dozen players, ten times a match. Plus, he looks very unfit, and faded noticeably as the match wore on.
Other things that stood out in this match are that Oscar looked very comfortable in the traditional number 10 role (we've an embarrassment of riches in this position it seems), when he replaced Hazard mid-way through the second half. And that I see now why we're linked with Victor Moses. Because he popped up on both wings for Wigan today, looked comfortable with either foot, and made a COMPLETE MUG out of both Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS. So expect him to be a Chelsea player by the end of the next week.
Prior to watching this match, I've always seen Moses as a 'Poor man's alternative to Hulk'. But on this form he could prove a whole lot more than that. Sure, he's still got a fair bit to learn, and his distribution leaves a lot to be desired. But eight to ten million pounds for a 21 year old with that much natural ability will be viewed as an absolute steal when we look back on the deal in years to come (so long as he lives up to his potential of course).
Where that leaves the Hulk deal, I've no idea. Because I can't see us buying both of them.
Brian M Logan