By Coral Barry
Jose Mourinho cannot hide his fury with Eden Hazard, Diego Costa is taking on a fight he cannot win and what we learned from Maccabi Tel-Aviv 0 Chelsea 4.
Mourinho furious at Hazard display
As Eden Hazard failed to even pretend to track back at the 65-minute mark and then relinquished possession for what seemed the upteenth time, Mourinho reacted with barely concealed fury on the sidelines. Hazard was hauled off three minutes later. After his encouraging display at the weekend, this was a shoddy showing from the Belgian. His touch was poor through-out and the reigning PFA Player of the Year never got going tonight despite the quality of the opposition. It was noticeable that Mourinho directed a series of rants from the touchline to the winger.
Dressing room tensions are manifesting themselves on the pitch
Mourinho was mad enough with Hazard, but that paled in comparison with his fury at Costa. The Brazilian striker failed to anticipate a knock-down as half-time approached and his manager lost his mind watching him labour. A row then ensued between the two men as they walked down the tunnel, which is said by onlookers to have reached seismic proportions away from the glare of the camera. Despite the continued denials of any unrest in the dressing room at Chelsea, it seems as though the tensions are manifesting themselves in the most public way. With Mourinho still commanding the backing of the club and with Costa hardly covering himself in glory with goals, this is a battle the striker can’t win and shouldn’t bother fighting.
Willian is a free-kick king
Four of Willian’s five attempts from direct free-kicks have found the back of the net in the Champions League this season. His work rate and quality combine to make him an ideal Mourinho player and he is showing up Hazard with a level of commitment the Belgian seems unwilling to match. After putting Chelsea beyond Maccabi with a glorious free-kick, Willian was quickly withdrawn with Chelsea’s clash against Tottenham on Sunday in mind. Chelsea will need the sprightly Brazilian firing on all cylinders against their in-form London rivals.
Matic starting to emerge from rut
For much of Chelsea’s catastrophic campaign, Nemanja Matic has been a shadow of the giant anchor of Chelsea’s title winning season. He has played poorly, been dropped, played little better and then been dropped again. Now in harness with Cesc Fabregas for the second consecutive match, the Serbian is showing encouraging signs that he is emerging from the rut. Quicker into the tackles and across the turf, Matic is making Chelsea hard to play against.
Any revival will be a slow one
Beating Norwich 1-0 on Saturday ended a run of three straight league defeats for Chelsea and tonight’s 4-0 result meant Mourinho got Chelsea’s first back-to-back victories since late September. It is a welcome return to something resembling normal service for the Londoners. There were glimpses of the old Blues tonight. One particular passage of quick interplay between Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Costa had echoes of the trio’s 2014/15 excellence, but there were also some disappointing moments. Costa had several opportunities to let fly but ended up on the deck, while Hazard’s touch in the box was continually poor. Chelsea were always going to win this game against a 10-man side that hadn’t won in Europe yet this year, but bigger tests await.
By Coral Barry