Fourth spot is a mountain Chelsea cannot climb, Nemanja Matic has a lot of work to do to reclaim a starting berth and other things we learned from Chelsea 2 West Brom 2.
By Coral Barry
Blues have too much ground to make up
Guus Hiddink has been brought in to rescue Chelsea’s dismal season and hunt down the final champions league spot, but this particular target looks an insurmountable one. The Blues are now 12 points off Tottenham in fourth. No team has ever finished higher than eighth with 22 points at this stage of the campaign and with Chelsea’s defensive frailties still glaringly obvious and Diego Costa the only real goalscorer on the payroll, Hiddink’s hopes of snatching fourth are distant at best.
Matic will struggle to dislodge Mikel
Matic has a fight on his hands to get back into the Chelsea starting eleven. Not because of the Serbian’s own drastically below-par form, but because of the stellar performances of his replacement John Obi Mikel. The defensive midfielder has now put in three assured 90-minute displays after making just two league starts this season under former manager Jose Mourinho. Mikel was neat on the ball, aggressive off it and provided some much needed reliability in front of Chelsea’s often suspect defence. Matic came on in the last quarter and might have to make the most of his cameo appearances if he wants to get ahead of Mikel.
Pedro career at crossroads
The former Barcelona player burst onto the scene at the Hawthorns in the autumn by getting a goal and an assist on his debut but he was substituted at half-time in tonight’s reverse fixture. Pedro seemed a snip at £22million after years spent as a key cog in the Camp Nou attacking wheel but that sum now looks poor value. His career is at a crossroads.
Berahino must move on this month
Twelve months ago, Saido Berahino was talked about as one of the hottest properties in English football alongside Harry Kane. Fast-forward a year and he is struggling to get into a West Brom side fighting to get themselves into the top half of the table. The English striker’s insistence on a move last summer seems to have soured his relationship with manager Tony Pulis and stalled his career. He needs to move on this January if he is to have any hope of starting on the road back to redemption.
Ivanovic deserves new deal
It was revealed this week that the 31-year-old is close to signing a new deal for the Blues and, after rediscovering some of his old form, Branislav Ivanovic deserves another year in west London. His assist today for his opposite full-back Cesar Azpilicueta was beautifully weighted and his second in as many games. Like so many of his Chelsea colleagues, the departure of Mourinho has awoken him from his slumber and the experienced right-back looks well worth an extended stay at the club he has served so well.