Chelsea’s victory in Israel this evening seemed to reflect yet more discontent between players and manager, but fortunately the three points have helped the Blues into a favourable position going into the final gameweek in Europe’s premier competition.
The Blues have been slightly less terrible in Europe than in domestic football, largely thanks to Willian’s brilliance with the dead ball.
Jose Mourinho seems to be seeing his team fall apart at the edges and, despite a victory, it was not an evening of entire positivity for anyone associated with the club.
The rock in the defence, John Terry, had to come off injured, Diego Costa argued with his boss and Eden Hazard was hooked off in the second half for failing to abide by Mourinho’s tactics.
Fortunately, the two Brazilians provided Chelsea with a bit of padding to the scoreline, which could’ve been so different when Tel Aviv threatened early on in the second half.
After another abject display in a Chelsea shirt, Jose Mourinho was visibly irritated with his star man. Hazard looked back to himself against Stoke, but he was as ineffective as he has been all season in this Champions League fixture.
Could his improved display at Stoke be linked to Mourinho being out of the stadium? Maybe not.
Either way, the relationship looks like it has broken down and the Belgian superstar will be a target for Europe’s big boys this summer.
Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa were a lethal partnership last season. This season? Not so much.
Costa looked like a carthorse for much of the game yet again and the only time he showed any sort of effect was as a battering ram, when he looked more Kevin Davies than Robert Lewandowski.
If Costa is to even reach 10 goals this season, his whole game will need a complete overhaul and the player must begin to run into dangerous areas once more. Several times during the match, as has happened a lot recently, there were balls into good areas in the box, which Costa simply did not anticipate.
The reported row with Mourinho at half-time is sure to give a lot of assistance to the rhetoric in the tabloids.
Everyone knows of Ivanovic’s woes this season, but Azpilicueta has been one of a few Chelsea players who has kept his standards high throughout.
It was a rare appearance for the Spaniard in his natural position, at right-back, and he was supreme throughout. His interceptions, attacking play and solid defending make him one of the best full-backs in Europe and Chelsea have been foolish to waste him on the left.
Baba Rahman featured at left-back and provided a pearler of a cross for the third goal and Chelsea may be able to have two full-backs capable of providing width if Mourinho can resist the temptation to bring Ivanovic back in.
Failing that, clone Azpilicueta and play him everywhere.