Norwich City 1-3 Chelsea: 6 Things We Learned
Chelsea went into the early kick-off at Carrow Road as the only team not to have conceded a second half goal this season. Demba Ba was preferred to Samuel Eto'o up front while the rest of the side remained unchanged from the 4-0 rout of Steaua Bucharest.
Ba had an impact within five minutes of kick-off as his pass found Oscar who fired the Blues in front. They carried that lead into the second half until Anthony Pilkington broke Chelsea's defensive record with 60 minutes played.
Mourinho has said before that he'd rather risk one point to gain three and that's exactly what he did.
Ba, Juan Mata and Ashley Cole were withdrawn for Eto'o, Eden Hazard and Willian. Oscar was involved again with a wonderful pass to Hazard for the Belgian's first goal of the season to give Chelsea the lead.
Eto'o then collided with three Norwich men, leaving Willian with enough space to ensure that his first goal for the Blues was an absolute screamer.
Here are six talking points from Chelsea's first away win of the season.
Mourinho Is Right to Favour Oscar
Oscar spent his first season at Chelsea as the most underrated of the Three Amigos. Despite his goal of the season against Juventus and a consistently excellent all-round performance, Hazard and Mata took the plaudits from pundits and fans alike.
Mourinho instantly recognised what a superbly talented footballer the young Brazilian is, and preferred him to Mata in the No. 10 role. Whilst everyone was up in arms about Mata losing the spot he excelled in last year, it turns out that The Special One knew exactly what he was doing.
Alongside his opening goal and superb pass for Hazard, Oscar made two tackles and took on four Norwich players, winning the man of the match award in the process.
Hazard Should Get the Mata Treatment
Mourinho said in August that he wants to see more from Hazard this season.
Although the Belgian's attacking play has been bamboozling defences up and down the country, his defensive contribution is somewhat lacking. He has made great strides towards addressing this, but in the process has been less effective in attack than he was last year.
The threat he poses going forward has led opposing teams to mark him out of the game for much of this season, leaving his flair and finesse with no final product.
The fact that he scored his first goal of the season as a second half substitute should not be ignored.
When he starts, the opposition have time to work out how to defend against him, yet when he is introduced late in the game he is able to have an instant impact.
He undoubtedly needs regular game time ahead of the 2014 World Cup, but it seems the best tactic going forward is to rotate him and Mata from the bench, maximising both players' game-changing impact.
Ramires Will Be Blues' Key Player This Season
Ramires was one of the first players contacted by Mourinho when the Portuguese's return was confirmed. The box-to-box midfielder had been coveted by the Special One at both Inter Milan and Real Madrid, and he has been integral to his plans so far this season.
Ramires' form has been reminiscent of Michael Essien in his prime. His 90 percent passing accuracy as well as two key passes and tackles shows a work rate that will be crucial to Chelsea's success this season.
Chelsea Should Begin the Search for a New Left Wing-Back
Ashley Cole left the game at Carrow Road suffering from pain in his ribs. A scan will confirm the extent of any damage, but it is clear that Cole's career is beginning to wind down.
He has been a great servant to the club since his controversial transfer from Arsenal in 2006, but there are concerns about how much longer he can continue at the top.
Ryan Bertrand is widely seen as Cole's successor, but he was not selected in the 18-man squad for the game against Norwich. Whilst it is highly likely that Mourinho would have made the tactical switch of swapping Cole for Hazard regardless, Bertrand still has a way to go before he can replace Cole on a full-time basis.
Chelsea should look for an experienced left-back who can bridge the gap between Bertrand and Cole next summer to avoid damaging their defensive reputation.
Norwich Are a Good Counter-Attacking Side
Although Chelsea dominated much of the match, they squandered several chances to make their lead more comfortable and were punished by a quick counter-attacking Norwich side.
Mourinho told his post-match press conference that he could "smell defeat" before he made his decisive substitutions, and it was down to some superb saves from Petr Cech that Chelsea were still level before Hazard's goal.
This was the Canaries second defeat at home in 2013, an impressive record that should keep them out of the relegation battle in May.
Chelsea's Strikers Need to Start Scoring
All of Chelsea's goals so far this season have come from behind the strikers. Demba Ba certainly improved on his performance against Aston Villa and got the assist for Oscar's opener, but he fluffed a few chances to get on the scoresheet himself.
The switch to a more traditional "route one" attack certainly helped Ba yesterday, but the reliance on the attacking midfield for goals remains a cause for concern.