Chelsea v Qarabag, View From The Stands
Having sat in the West Stand at Stamford Bridge last night, it was opportunity to take a look at some of Chelsea`s new boys. The Blues starting XI against Champions League new boys Qarabag, saw a host of changes from Saturday`s game against Leicester City. With Chelsea playing hosts to Arsenal on Sunday lunchtime, Antonio Conte, rested Alvaro Morata, David Luiz, and Victor Moses.
Thibaut Courtois in goal, didn`t have a great deal to do, other than keep himself warm as he watched the game from a distance. He did his job when he had to. In defence Andreas Christensen slotted in between the returning Gary Cahill and the ever-present Cesar Azpilicueta. The three of them performed well, and the signs look good for the season. Antonio Conte can mix and match his five defenders having, clearly, drilled them to the same standard. More of the Conte work,work,work ethic paying dividends. Azpilicueta`s headed goal was a bonus as he looked to compete with Alvaro Morata, who he ran to, after scoring. The Spanish striker was warming up on the touchline.
Marcos Alonso and debutant Davide Zappacosta took up the wing-back roles. The Italian showed Victor Moses, he may have competition for that right-sided slot with a good performance. He made a big impact with the supporters when he picked up the ball in his own half, ran along the touchline and caught the keeper out with his cross / shot. The ground rang to the crowd singing 'he scores when he wants, he scores when he wants, Zappacosta, he scores when he wants.` It was a great moment to witness, even if, as he`s admitted, it was a fluke.
N`golo Kante is a running machine, small of stature but big on legs, he put in his normal man about the pitch performance. Alongside him was Cesc Fabregas who had a quiet game by his standards, maybe he was saving himself for Arsenal.
The front three had strange games between them. Pedro got the game off to a great start with his curling shot from outside the penalty area, nicely worked by man-of-the-match Willian. Speaking of who, the Brazilian had a great game in terms of work rate, step over`s and generally trickery, he just lacks an end product. He has a tendency to 'out-techers` himself. He needs to get a shot away or make that telling pass a tad sooner.
Last but not least the man up top, Michy Batshuayi. I want to say good things, but he had a poor game. He scored two goals towards the end, so credit is due, but his first touch let him down time and again. You couldn`t say he wasn`t trying though, things just weren`t coming off for him. Maybe it`s down to bad luck.
I think Conte and the Chelsea board need to be lining up someone to support Morata in the January transfer window. If we are to progress to later stages of this competition, I`m afraid the Batsman is not going to be good enough.
Tiemoue Bakayoko, who came on as a substitute scored his first Chelsea goal and Antonio Rudiger who replaced Azpilicueta, had an assist (I think) for a Medvedev own goal. First substitution of the night though, was Eden Hazard who came on with 32 minutes remaining. On a wet night, he didn`t look too impressed to be on but showed glimpses of what we know he can do. He shared a moment with the Matthew Harding faithful when he ran the ball out before being able to get a cross in.
It was a good 6-0 win against an opposition who ran and tried, but ultimately couldn`t. Fair play as well, to their very small number of supporters who made the long journey to watch their team get stuffed. Hopefully they had a good night out in London to make amends.