Chelsea Winners and Losers vs. Hull City in Premier League Opener
Jose Mourinho got the perfect welcome home as his Chelsea side beat Hull City 2-0. Two superb goals in the first half were enough to seal the victory for the Blues as they held firm, despite a late rally from the visitors.
There were plenty of positives to take from the team’s performance, especially in the first 45 minutes. However, there were a few players for whom it just wasn’t their day. Here are Chelsea’s winners and losers from their opening fixture of the 2013-14 Premier League.
Statistics taken from FourFourTwo StatsZone, powered by Opta.
Winners: Frank Lampard, Oscar, Ramires
Frank Lampard showed his mettle in the opening stages, as he saw his penalty saved by Allan McGregor before scoring a free kick worthy of a place in any hall of fame. His passing was 86 percent accurate and he had a total of four shots on target as he unexpectedly played the full 90 minutes.
Playing alongside Ramires in the pivot, Lampard recovered the ball four times as well as making two tackles and one interception. After all the drama surrounding his contract extension throughout last season, the man they call Super Frank certainly proved his worth against Hull.
Oscar exhibited his phenomenal talent throughout the 85 minutes he spent on the pitch, His passing was 81 percent accurate and he created three chances for his teammates. His link-up play with Eden Hazard in particular was a joy to watch as they knocked the ball around three Hull players as if the opposition weren’t there.
His goal was the product of some excellent work by Kevin De Bruyne, and the finish showed his class. Oscar was also up to his old tricks of popping up across the park as he made four clearances and an interception as well as recovering the ball on four occasions.
Many people criticised his Premier League contribution in 2012-13, obviously forgetting that it was his debut season. If his performance in this match is anything to go by, he will continue to improve under the tutelage of The Special One.
Ramries was the engine room of Chelsea’s midfield. Although the crowd were singing for Michael Essien as the Ghana star warmed up on the touchline, it was the Brazilian who was filling The Bison’s shoes on the pitch. Ramires played four successful and beautiful long balls, with an overall passing accuracy of 92 percent.
He was no defensive lightweight.
Partnering Lampard in the pivot was always going to mean that Ramires stayed further back. He performed above expectations with five clearances, four tackles and nine ball recoveries. His overall performance showed why Mourinho had tried to sign him for both Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
Honourable Mentions: Marco van Ginkel, Andre Schurrle, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne
Andre Schurrle and Marco van Ginkel were given cameo appearances on their competitive debuts for the club. Romelu Lukaku was given a 15 minute run out, replacing Fernando Torres, and Kevin de Bruyne was voted man of the match.
Losers: Eden Hazard, Fernando Torres
Eden Hazard will always be a controversial pick for any losers section. Statistically he had an above-average game, with six chances created and three attempts of his own. He released Kevin de Bruyne to set up the opening goal and also got more involved defensively than he did last season, making three clearances and two tackles.
This development of his game is certainly a positive, but he will take time to fully adjust to his new role within Mourinho's system.
Hazard also appeared frustrated by the lack of space he was afforded by the opposition. Surrounded by at least two Hull players any time he got near the ball, his efforts were snuffed out time and again. Although he worked extremely hard for his teammates, he could have had more success if he had been a bit more selfish on occasion.
Fernando Torres has Mourinho’s backing to do well this season. The Special One has even said that he will change Chelsea’s system to better suit the striker, and there were glimpses of this plan paying off as he saw two shots blocked. He found himself on the shoulder of the last man twice, however his darting runs were not in sync with the midfielders’ passes.
His own 67 percent passing accuracy needs a lot of work, and the fact that he had the fewest touches of any of the starting 11 shows how far he has to go before any measurable improvement can be seen.
Honourable mentions: David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta, Juan Mata
David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta were left out of the matchday squad, as the former continues his recovery from a hamstring injury and the latter adjusts his body clock back to London time after a midweek trip to Ecuador where he warmed the Spanish bench.
Juan Mata was named in the squad, but the 2012 and 2013 Chelsea Player of the Year will have to wait a little bit longer to return to action as Mourinho is unwilling to risk him until he is confident of his fitness.
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