Chelsea got their campaign up and running with a hard-fought 3-2 win against West Brom at a rainy Hawthorns.
The Blues, who have not made as slow a start to a season since the 1998/1999 season, looked in control through Pedro and Costa, but two Morrison goals either side of a Chelsea third meant there was much drama and nerves for Mourinho’s 300th game in charge of Chelsea, especially as Terry was sent off after 54 minutes.
It has been a frantic week at Chelsea after a slow start to the campaign and an unwelcome debacle regarding ‘medic-gate’, but there is always method to Mourinho’s ways and whilst the arrival fo Rahman and Pedro smacks of panic buying, Mourinho has got his own way again. With Stones likely to join, Chelsea look ambitious again after a summer of resting on their laurels.
There is certainly a space for new arrivals in the team, with Pedro arriving on Thursday and starting on Sunday for his Chelsea and Premier League debut, whilst Cahill dropped to the bench in favour of Zouma and, maybe in the future, for Stones. Oscar, Ramires and Cuadrado were all absent after speculation one or more of the trio may depart to Juventus as the Blues look to recruit Pogba.
Would these quick-fire additions spring Chelsea into life? Pedro certainly showed the way, at a ground where Chelsea have lost three of the last four visits here.
It was a busy match from the off. Courtois punched from a cross which McLean nearly reached, whilst at the other end, Costa dragged a shot wide after escaping the defenders.
Morrison was in the thick of the action all game and nearly found Rondon’s outstretched leg from a cross. He had his own chance to score from a penalty just a minute later but Courtois’ leg saved the day. Chris Brunt, whom Morrison displaced from penalty taking duties for this one, would certainly have a stern work.
Then came Chelsea. Pedro and Hazard initiated a one-two and the former Barcelona man bundled the ball into the net past Myhill.
One became two, all from a West Brom corner. Willian counter, Pedro went for goal but Costa was in the right place at the right time to divert the off-target shot, to open his account for the season.
Cruise control only lasted six minutes as a Fabregas stray pass presented West Brom with possession, and when Ivanovic was caught, a long pass found Rondon, who got a foot to divert it to Morrison who made amends by rifling home.
Willian should have scored before the whistle blew as great build-up play by Pedro teed up the Brazilian, but he was far too casual and slotted wide the golden opportunity.
Azpilicueta made no mistake soon after though. Costa was pulled down as he tried to chest the ball for his own control, but kudos for Azpilicueta for reacting quickest to surprise everyone with his first Premier League goal.
Then came the big moment. Brunt’s pass found Rondon, who was dragged down by Terry. Fortunately for the captain it was outside the box, but it still warranted a red card.
3-1 became 3-2 very quickly after the sending off when Morrison directed a superb header past Courtois and in off the underside of the crossbar.
Lambert came on to push Chelsea and his partner Rondon, who had a great game, should have levelled from the edge of the box.
The physios on to treat Ivanovic soon after and there were cheers again as Chelsea were down to nine men again, a la in the Swansea game. Will the new pairing be sacked for next week?
McManaman curled wide and Costa skied high as Falcao and Mikel entered the fray of a busy game. Hazard dragged a shot wide, Falcao was slow to sort his feet out and Rondon’s shot needed a smothering from Courtois as the action was frantic right up until the full-time whistle, but when it did blow the relief from Mourinho was there for all to see.
What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!
Man of the Match
PEDRO: Superb debut. Chelsea needed an injection of an x-factor after a sluggish start but Pedro ticked all the boxes, scoring after 20 minute and assisting another. It was all about the three points today and you need players like Pedro to spark a side into life. Hazard and Costa too deserve mentions, as the stinkers for the week were Ivanovic and Fabregas. 8/10
Mourinho was at his cryptic best: “I know many people are disappointed with this result — people love Chelsea to lose again. I’m so happy the players got what they deserve. Four points in three matches is not enough. The feeling is we are fighting against a lot. But today we won.”
Pulis was still finding the best way to bring his side forward: “We haven’t found the right balance yet between being comfortable and strong defensively, and still having that flair to go forward and score goals. Hopefully we’ll bring one or two more players in.”