In the space of just four days the wheels that had been threatening to fall off of Chelsea’s season finally separated themselves from their axels and bounced all over the turf at Goodison Park on Saturday night. Heading into their FA Cup quarter-final clash with Everton, the Londoners knew that the game represented their last chance to keep their season alive after a disappointing, if expected, Champions League loss at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain.
In truth the game was a close one, with only Romelu Lukaku’s brute force enough to prise the two teams apart late on, but that will do very little for Chelsea’s confidence, as they now face nine league games in which there’s little to get motivated for.
Interestingly, Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink once again overlooked Alexandre Pato on Merseyside, meaning that the winter loan addition is still searching for his Blues debut. Surely the Dutchman should give the 26-year-old forward a chance now, and here are FIVE reasons why…
Back-to-back cup eliminations at the hands of PSG (Champions League) and Everton (FA Cup) have left Chelsea’s season in tatters. An abysmal defence of their Premier League crown meant the Londoners were reliant on these two remaining tournaments to give their campaign any meaning, but two losses in as many games means that there is now, barring a miracle in the league, nothing to play for.
So, why not experiment? Although it’s not necessarily in Hiddink’s remit to mix the team up a little as he wont be there next season, he may as well give fringe players a go, and with Pato commanding a sizable salary, it seems a complete waste to leave him on the fringes.
From the agent-dripped transfer stories that plagued the winter months, Pato eventually got his move. It was pretty clear that everyone on the player’s side during the run-up to January was desperate to see the 26-year-old get a move back across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe, so surely the Brazil international will be desperate to justify all the talk about him?
As such, Chelsea could be getting a motivated and hungry player for the remaining nine games of the season, which could be useful as some stars may be drifting off towards thought of the European Championships or summer holidays.
Diego Costa really let himself down on Saturday evening against Everton. All game long the Spaniard was playing on the ragged edge, and eventually his temper boiled over in the form of a clash with Gareth Barry – which earned him what was, shockingly, his first red card as a Chelsea player via a second booking. In fact, he’s been retrospectively punished with six games of bans in the Blue shirt already, and with rumours of his desire to move back to Atletico Madrid doing the rounds, can he be relied upon entirely?
One would suspect not, so maybe phasing him out between now and the end of the season makes sense, and with Pato playing for a future at the club, he’ll surely be more motivated and disciplined. The Brazilian can be used as either a wide forward or a striker, which could allow Hiddink to try Bertrand Traore up front or even Pato himself as a sort of ‘false nine’ forward.
Granted, Pato hasn’t yet played for Chelsea, but his past few seasons in Brazil showed signs of life after many had written him off following injury issues at AC Milan.
The 26-year-old netted a respectable 28 goals in his three seasons back in his homeland’s top tier, while also notching eight assists. Although these numbers are not ground-breaking, his first campaign was spent rediscovering full fitness, and his level of performance even led to talk surrounding a Selecao comeback – no mean feat considering the talent available to the nation.
There’s an argument that Loic Remy is, if not better, of equal talent, but the Frenchman nearly left in January and must surely be low on motivation following his consistent time on the bench. Meanwhile, Radamel Falcao has shown over his 18 months in England that the player who terrorised the Portuguese Primeira Liga and Spain’s La Liga just a few years ago is gone.
Bertrand Traore has promise, but surely Pato is worth a go given that Hiddink is low on options in the final third.