As part of a new series on FourFourTwo.com, Garry Hayes wraps up the last week of action at Stamford Bridge...
The week in five words
Debuts. Experimentation. Goals. Suspension. Doping.
What went well
There have been few teams worse than Aston Villa in the history of the Premier League, let alone this season. Eric Black’s side are the epitome of poor, which is why they stand on the brink of relegation to the Championship.
But that shouldn't detract from what was an impressive display from a much-changed Chelsea side on Saturday.
From the outset Guus Hiddink’s side played with intent, getting at their opponents with a desire that has been lacking at times this season. The Blues were ruthless against Villa, punishing them with all the efficiency you might expect from reigning champions.
The problem is that Chelsea have only been champions in name this season, which has been a major disappointment in SW6. We haven’t seen enough of them dominating opponents in the way they did Villa. The 4-0 scoreline certainly didn’t flatter Hiddink’s men and it could have been more.
Aside from Villa’s shortcomings, what helped Chelsea on Saturday was the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, with the academy graduate helping maintain a good tempo in midfield and always looking a threat.
Chelsea found themselves having to defend the integrity of their players and the club in general on Sunday when the Blues were embroiled in a Sunday Times exclusive on doping in British sport.
The paper claimed a London-based private doctor, Mark Bonar, had revealed he had worked with a number of professional sportsmen to provide performance-enhancing drug programmes. Chelsea strenuously denied any connection with Bonar and doping, as did Leicester and Arsenal.
In a statement Chelsea said the claims were “false and entirely without foundation”, adding they have “never used the services of Dr Bonar and have no knowledge or record of any of our players having been treated by him or using his services”.
The Sunday Times also noted in its report that there was no evidence to back up Bonar’s claims.
Quote of the week
“We forgot that you were here!”
Alexandre Pato joined Chelsea in January and almost three months on, finally made his debut against Aston Villa. Chelsea fans gave him a warm welcome. Well, sort of.
The need-to-know facts
- Ruben Loftus-Cheek bagged his first Premier League goal in his 11th appearance.
- Alexandre Pato is the sixth Brazilian to score on his Premier League debut, following Geovanni, Robinho, Gilberto, Ilan and Willian.
- Only Diego Costa (11) has scored more Premier League goals than Pedro (6) for Chelsea this season.
- Chelsea have now set the longest unbeaten run of any team in the Premier League this season, going 15 games without a loss (W7 D8).
- Guus Hiddink remains unbeaten in the Premier League since he returned as Chelsea boss (W6 D8).
Video of the week
Chelsea fans mark Pato’s debut goal with some more tongue-in-cheek chanting.
— ChelseaFansChannel (@ChelseaFansYT) April 2, 2016
Winner of the week
Pato has grabbed the headlines after scoring on his Chelsea debut, but it’s the performance of youngster Loftus-Cheek at Villa Park which impressed most.
For all the hype surrounding him, Loftus-Cheek hasn’t quite delivered when he has appeared in Chelsea colours; the potential has been there, but the 20-year-old has seemed to play with the handbrake on. At times he has been too cautious, and the feeling has been that an element of awe has crept in given the big names he is playing alongside.
Well, the shackles were well and truly off on Saturday.
Loftus-Cheek put in the sort of commanding display that will save Chelsea a few million in transfer fees this summer. Not only did he score the game’s opening goal, the 20-year-old completely dominated the Villa rearguard. He also completed the full 90 minutes for only the second time in his Chelsea career.
"For [Ruben] it's very important that he is not just making 45 minutes or 60 minutes but that he feels the substance to deal with the Premier League's demands," Guus Hiddink said after.
Loser of the week
Chelsea’s Spain international striker Diego Costa has been given a one-game extension to his two-match ban picked up against Everton in the FA Cup last month. It comes after he was first suspected of biting Gareth Barry in the melee that followed his reaction to a tackle from the Everton midfielder.
No wrongdoing was proved in that instance, but Costa has paid the price for remonstrating with referee Michael Oliver before he headed off down the tunnel at Goodison Park in his customary strop. The FA were clearly unimpressed, dishing out Costa’s extended ban on Thursday, with a £20,000 fine added on for good measure. It means Costa won'tt be available until April 16 when Chelsea face Manchester City—more than a month since he last featured. In total, the striker has missed six games through suspension this season.