Five things we learned at Chelsea 2-2 Swansea
Montero is a retro talent like few others
Time was, chalk-on-your-boots wingers were the talk of football. The best of them all, Stanley Matthews, was the reason people came to football matches.
The 21st Century is an age of physical midfielders and hulking centre-forwards, not diminutive wide men who delight in getting to the byline and standing up crosses to the back post.
Jefferson Montero, then, is a throwback, someone who shouldn’t succeed in the modern game. He gave away nearly half a foot to Branislav Ivanovic, yet the Serbian will surely awake at 4.30am tomorrow in a cold sweat just thinking about the Ecuadorian.
His run to set up Andre Ayew’s debut goal was indicative of Montero’s jinking display. Ayew’s turn, by the way, was fabulously controlled. When the 25-year-old left the field injured after 71 minutes, Swansea’s attacking threat largely went with him.
“I see that every day,” said Monk post-game. “I fear for our full-backs in training more.” Impressive stuff.
Gomis will do damage this season
It wasn’t just Montero who brought attacking verve to Garry Monk’s side. A hulking striker who is now the club’s No.1 forward, Bafetimbi Gomis produced a display of rare touch, grace and bulldozing charm.
The Frenchman ran himself into the ground and was rewarded with his calmly-taken penalty that levelled the score at 2-2. He had a goal disallowed for offside, too, and will only get better.
Chelsea were stodgy
In his post-match intervew, Jose Mourinho said his team were the better side in the first time and the only team wanting to win. He wasn’t fooling anyone. Chelsea created very little in what was apparently “a very good first half”.
Both goals owed much to fortune – Oscar’s free-kick missed everyone to go in, Willian’s was a deflected cross that looped over the stranded Lukas Fabianski. Diego Costa was a constant threat, but few others were. Eden Hazard was anonymous until the final 10 minutes and Willian didn’t help the exposed Ivanovic at the back.
Mourinho, however, refused to be drawn on the referee Michael Oliver, who sent off keeper Thibaut Courtois for bringing down Gomis when clean through on goal. “It was on day one that we were punished,” smirked the Special One, “it was not on day one that I opened my mouth, for once.” The first soundbite of the season has arrived.
Shelvey is living up to undoubted talent
When Jonjo Shelvey was a Liverpool player, he was seldom given the chance to play regular first-team football. Yet under Garry Monk, the follicle challenged midfielder is developing into the midfield general that many have long believed he could become.
Nobody completed more passes than the 23-year-old’s 51 (from a possible 57), nor created more chances than his six, which included threaded balls for Gomis to go close in the first half, as well as the dink that helped win the penalty. His corners were excellent, too, and deserved better than his team-mates wasteful attempts. “That’s what Jonjo can do,” said Monk post-game. “He was excellent today.”
What’s happened to Cesc?
FROM THE BRIDGE
Cesc Fabregas faded badly last season, but usually starts the season well. Yet in last weekend’s Community Shield, the Spaniard looked lethargic and too passive as Arsenal allowed the former Barcelona midfielder the time to play, but not the spaces to pass into.
Here, Swansea went down a different route and pressed Fabregas at every opportunity, hurrying him into uncharacteristic errors. Early season it may be, but he looked way off the pace. Given last season’s fade from Christmas, you have to wonder whether the now 28-year-old has already peaked.
Chelsea fans must hope not, for they look devoid of creativity without him. Will the real Cesc please stand up?