Having been marmalized in midweek by Bournemouth, Chelsea continued their yo-yoing displays with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over lowly Huddersfield at the Bridge.
Even ‘Mr Motivator’ – Morrie Sarri – looked pleased with the display by the time ref Paul Tierney blew the final whistle. Having cold-shouldered his squad by refusing to travel back to London with them in the team bus after the 4-0 south coast debacle, he had somehow managed to gee them up enough to press effectively from the outset on Saturday afternoon in a chilly SW6.
With two goals for Eden Hazard and two confidence-building strikes from new centre forward Gonzalo Higuain, plus a bonus headed goal from David Luiz (to atone for his woeful display in midweek), there was plenty to celebrate for Blues fans.
But yo-yo teams struggle to win trophies and titles, and the underlying issues at Chelsea – though masked by today’s comprehensive victory – remain.
Chelsea were 1-0 up after 16 minutes, following some good build-up play down the right wing. Willian’s cheeky flick forward found Higuain, who lashed the ball, right-footed, into the net past Jonas Lossl.
By half-time it was 2-0 as, moments before the interval, captain Cesar Azpilicueta sprinted forward on one of his advanced forays (much in the mould of a former captain, John Terry), and was felled by Elias Kachunga. The only debate seemed to be whether it was inside or outside the box, but his momentum certainly left him sprawled well inside the area.
Hazard stepped up, and made no mistake.
It was Hazard’s quick feet which made it 3-0 in the 66th minute, as he evaded capture, slid round Lossl and dinked the ball into the net, left-footed.
The fourth came three minutes later. Hazard fed N’Golo Kante, who teed up Higuain, and the Argentine’s curling shot – taking a slight deflection – sailed home.
There was still time for a fifth, four minutes from time. Willian took Chelsea’s 11th corner of the game (a figure which accurately reflected their dominance) and Luiz nodded it down and in, via a significant deflection off a defender’s foot.
Why could the Blues not have focused, taken their chances and dominated like this down at Bournemouth? It’s a mystery, and a frustrating mystery at that.
Next up, a trip to Manchester City.