Chelsea welcomed Rafa Benitez back to the Bridge, this time without A4 placards and witty slogans on sheets. The Spaniard, now in-charge of Newcastle United, saw his team lose by three goals to nil despite the hosts being a bit unconvincing till the end. Nevertheless, Chelsea are in the hat for the 5th round draw.

Here are some of the things to mull over, over a hot cup of coffee.

#1 Going Strong

After the defeat to Arsenal there was a clamour for youth to be given more of a chance, with Chelsea Twitter out in force and armed with pitchforks. Thankfully, Antonio Conte knows more about the strengths and weaknesses of his team than your average 280 character weirdo. Conte put out a strong lineup with the likes of Hazard, Batshuayi, Kante and Christensen playing from the start. And as if to offer an olive branch to those claiming he is anti-youth, Charly Musonda, Ethan Ampadu and Callum Hudson-Odoi also made the bench. The question remained, however, if he would use any of them.

#2 All At Sea

Up until the first goal, Chelsea were having yet another one of those days when you could be forgiven for thinking they were a team in the relegation zone. The defence did its best to sap any confidence from the midfield and they passed it on to the forwards. Newcastle were no better and the match threatened to turn into a comedy of errors. Until someone flashed…

#3 The Bat Signal

That’s two more for Michy Batshuayi, who has scored more goals than you’d realize. He is now ahead of Alexandre Lacazette, with less than half the number of minutes played by the Arsenal striker. His general play was also very good against Newcastle. In pursuit of a hat trick, one late run from the side left a defender on the floor and the ‘keeper barely kept the ball out of the net. Conte’s comments after the game suggested he wants another striker in addition to the two he already has, and not because Michy will leave on loan. The sensible option would be to add instead of replace, but we’re not known for keeping things simple.

#4 C to the H to the O

It was a day that Callum Hudson-Odoi will never forget. The 17 year old made his senior debut for Chelsea with a cameo towards the end of the match. Those of us who have seen him play for the U-18s would immediately recognize the pace and the obvious talent on display. But tactically, he did not seem to be on the same wavelength as the rest of the team. Maybe a few more training sessions with the first team are needed before he understands the playbook. More minutes should help, too. If Ampadu can slot in effortlessly at 17, so can CH-O.

#5 Arrivals And Departures

Alonso remains the only option at leftback despite January almost coming to an end. With the Emerson transfer no closer to completion and the Dzeko deal hitting every possible obstacle, Chelsea fans can look forward to plenty of deadline day drama once again. Musonda appears to be on the verge of a loan to Celtic, so there’s another one out the door. We need more bodies in, not out. Is anyone listening?

While the suits sort out the transfers, Chelsea welcome Bournemouth to the Bridge in midweek. Any new player will need to be registered by midday of Tuesday. Let’s not hold our breath.

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