7 Talking Points: World Cup Qualifiers
As the summer transfer window “slammed shut”, players bid farewell to their clubs – old and new – and embarked on faraway travels with their national teams. Yes, after the excitement of the new Premier League season and the over-the-top shenanigans of the transfer window, it’s time for the international break. This week, it’s World Cup qualifiers where quite a few Chelsea lads are involved.
Here are some of the talking points from the first set of games:
- Morata Madness: Alvaro Morata carried over his fine form into the international break and scored after coming on as a substitute against Italy. With Diego Costa out of shape and out of contention for the next few months, Morata could finally shed his impact-sub tag for La Furia Roja and become their number one striker.
- Hazard Warning: After surviving around 75 minutes in an Under-23 game a few days ago, Hazard was called up by Belgium, much to the surprise of Antonio Conte. Hazard bagged a goal and an assist against Gibraltar in his 77 minutes on the pitch and emerged unscathed. This spared Roberto Martinez from an absolute bollocking from Conte, who would have spontaneously combusted with rage had Hazard picked up a new injury.
- Moses Parties: Wingback extraordinaire, Victor Moses, scored one and assisted another against Cameroon. Chelsea legend John Obi Mikel applied the finishing touch, allowing us to imagine what might have been had both of them played together a bit more at Chelsea. Ah, well.
- Batshuayi Benched: Michy Batshuayi has been the victim of Romelu Lukaku’s success and his own lack of minutes at Chelsea. Against a weak opposition, Batshuayi did not get a chance to come off the bench and had to smile through gritted teeth as he saw Lukaku plunder a hat-trick. The transfer window has only just closed, but January can’t come soon enough for the Batsman.
- Debut Delayed: Ola Aina played at various youth levels for England, but has now chosen to represent the country of his parents’ birth. He was left disappointed as his switch to Nigeria was not cleared before the game against Cameroon, but he should be able to make his debut in the next match. With Victor Moses ahead of him in terms of position for the national team and in terms of pecking order at Chelsea, Aina could use him as a mentor to learn a thing or two about patience and perseverance.
- Cahill Chuffed: Permanent Chelsea captain and rotational England captain, Gary Cahill, played against the minnows of Malta in a routine victory. Currently serving a suspension for a red card he received in the very first game of the new season, he’d be one of the few people happy for the international break at this point.
- Fingers Crossed: So far, none of the Chelsea contingent have suffered an injury of any kind. Let’s hope it stays that way. We’re looking at you, Señor Martinez.
With the second set of games yet to be played, all we can do now is hope and pray for a safe return of all our internationals. Bring back the Premier League already!