Chelsea starts season off right with 2-0 defeat of Wigan
Chelsea blasted out of the gate today, with Ivanovic and Lampard scoring within the first six minutes at Wigan Athletic. Only problem with such a start was that Chelsea lacked zip for most of the remaining 84 minutes. In case you missed it, here is the good, bad, and ugly from Chelsea’s first win of the season…
Good: Eden Hazard! He showed great bursts of speed and accurate attacking passes. He was fouled a lot in the first half, which meant he was doing a lot of things right. Fox Soccer’s Warren Barton said Hazard might be the bargain of the season. I’m inclined to agree. Hazard adds zest to Chelsea’s midfield, which too often moved in slow-motion last season.
It was good to see Oscar (the brand new Brazilian signing) get some second half minutes, though I wish he wouldn’t have replaced Hazard. Oscar didn’t get to do much, but he’s only been with the team a week so we’ll cut him plenty of slack.
It was an interesting (and surprising) idea to let Ryan Bertrand try forward today. Bertrand didn’t make much impact though. In fact, he’s been more of an attacking threat in previous matches when he’s carrying the ball up the left flank as a defender. Anyway, it will be interesting to see where this experiment leads.
Bad: After Chelsea’s explosive start to the match, they allowed Wigan to have most of the possession. You can often get away with that against the Wigans of the league, except there aren’t many Wigans in the league anymore. Chelsea was fortunate that Wigan was asleep for the first five minutes of the match; otherwise we might be talking about a season-opening draw.
Torres was not involved enough (as usual). In his defense, he wasn’t provided many passes, but the ones he got he generally squandered. His best scoring chance was cleared off the line in the second half. He also missed a nifty pass in the box from Ivanovic just before full time that he should’ve been looking out for. This wasn’t the confidence-boosting outing Torres needed to start the season.
This isn’t necessarily in the “bad” category, but I was disappointed to see Mikel get the starting nod over Essien in the defensive midfield role. Di Matteo seems to favor Mikel and I’m not sure why. Mikel hasn’t been bad, but I thought Essien had a better preseason in the U.S. Tour matches. I hope today’s benching isn’t a hint that Essien’s about to be let go.
Ugly: Chelsea’s yellow/black third kit. I’m not very fashion forward (my daughter is happy to confirm this), but the third kit just doesn’t work for me. I prefer away kits to at least hint at the club’s main colors. Black & yellow isn’t Chelsea at all.
Overall, this wasn’t the dominating win it should have been. Chelsea let Wigan hang around and threaten. But in the round robin format of the Premier League, the three points is all that matters. It will take a while for Di Matteo to work out the best starting lineup combination, but the pieces are in place to have a very successful season.
What did you think of Chelsea’s season-opening performance?