Hull City 0-2 Chelsea: 6 Things We Learned
Chelsea travelled to Hull knowing that a win would put them on top of the Premier League for 24 hours.
The home side had the better of the chances in the first half, testing Petr Cech twice, before Oscar and David Luiz were denied at the other end. The Blues came out stronger in the second half and won back-to-back corners, while Luiz’s free kick was cleared hurriedly.
According to the BT Sport commentators, Eden Hazard had spent the week practising shots from all angles in the penalty area, and it paid off as he opened the scoring after 55 minutes with a well-timed shot in the box.
As Chelsea settled in to controlling the second half with John Obi Mikel replacing Oscar for the final 10 minutes, Fernando Torres scored his second goal of 2014 to give Chelsea a 2-0 win. Here are six things we learned from the first Premier League match of the weekend.
All statistics from whoscored.com
Contract Talks Affecting Cole?
Ashley Cole’s contract extension has taken a while to materialise.
Ahmed Elmohamady twisted Cole in the first 45 minutes, leaving him stranded several times. Mourinho obviously picked up on this at halftime as David Luiz drifted to the left of his defensive midfield position. This relieved some of the pressure on Cole and allowed him to get forward to provide the assist for Hazard’s opener; however, it was not his finest game for Chelsea.
Hull's High Pressure Gave Chelsea Hell
Hull lined up in their favoured 3-5-2 formation, and although they often had eight behind the ball, their midfield allowed them to press high in numbers.
They were unlucky not to capitalise on a silly error from John Terry in the first half, and they certainly showed why they have one of the best home records in the league.
Chelsea Are a Second-Half Side
Chelsea may have had the reverse fixture sewn up inside 25 minutes, but for the majority of the season they have been a second-half side.
Against Hull, they were sloppy at times in the first 45 minutes, and they let the home side dictate the pace of the game. This caused plenty of problems as the Tigers had the better of the first-half chances, but whatever Mourinho said at halftime worked.
Eden Hazard in particular seemed rejuvenated after the break as Chelsea upped the tempo to control the game.
David Luiz Makes the Midfield Difference
Luiz is often criticised for his poor positioning and lack of focus, which make him a liability at centre-half.
Mourinho has gone back on his word in recent weeks and moved the Brazilian forward to midfield, where he acts as a shield for the defence. His passing against Hull was 78 percent accurate, but his 16 effective clearances made the difference in a congested midfield game.
Petr Cech Is Chelsea's No. 1
Hull tested him at times, with a first-half strike from Elmohamady in particular putting the record at risk.
However, as the defence shored up in the second half, the Blues’ No. 1 was able to see out the game to become their best-ever keeper. Cech now only needs 19 more clean sheets in the Premier League to match David James’ all-time record.
Chelsea's Chance Conversion Is Improving
Chelsea had five shots on target against Hull City, two of which were converted.
Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres both managed to make their strikes count, while it took some fine goalkeeping from Allan McGregor to keep out Oscar and David Luiz.
The Blues are a work in progress, and the fact that they are top of the league without realising their full potential should scare their title rivals for years to come.