Sometimes it just isn’t thrilling.
Chelsea did a workmanlike job in Greece against PAOK Salonika, but the 1-0 win wasn’t in the ‘convincing’ bracket, and while the Blues dominated most of the match, the failure to score a second goal led to an edgy last 15 minutes.
Worse, Pedro – a lively spark in the first phase of Chelsea’s new season – went off injured in stoppage time after colliding with the PAOK goalkeeper’s knee.
On the bright side, captain-for-the-night Willian’s seventh minute goal meant the Blues achieved victory in the first of six initial Europa League matches. He slid the ball beneath Alexandros Paschalakis to briefly quieten the 29,000 baying home fans. It means that ever since the Community Shield defeat on the weekend before the season’s start, Chelsea have achieved a 100% results record.
But despite numerous openings, off-form Alvaro Morata couldn’t find the net, and Chelsea – in yellow – failed to make their possession count.
Keeper Kepa is still settling, but he’s an instinctive puncher not a catcher, and looks awkward at times.
A rash of late substitutions left Chelsea unable to replace Pedro when he hobbled off towards the end. Cesar Azpilicueta, Cesc Fabregas and Olivier Giroud came on for Marcos Alonso, Jorginho and Morata respectively – partly with Sunday’s clash at West Ham in mind.
But how Morrie Sarri would have loved a second goal to put the game to bed, so he could have shepherded his flock to greater effect. Eden Hazard missed the game through tiredness, but is expected to start at the London Stadium.