Pat Nevin: More steps beyond
Column Tue 31 Dec 2014
Totting up the positives in the display at Turf Moor and counting down the days until he can watch the team play again, former Chelsea star and columnist Pat Nevin writes with enthusiasm…
Sometimes it is difficult to know what to write about, but today the problem is to know what to leave out after such an impressive performance last night by the Blues.
The trip to Turf Moor was supposed to be a tricky affair and after Scott Arfield’s early world-class strike for Burnley, there was a moment when you thought this could be a long night, but it was only a moment. Chelsea went through the gears at such a rate that you almost felt a little sorry for Burnley as the half wore on. It was blistering stuff and after the third there was the possibility of an avalanche of goals. After the break however it was a controlled performance designed to secure the points and save early season legs, it is of course a marathon not a sprint.
From back to front there wasn’t a Chelsea player lower than an 8/10 and most were nines. The headlines were waiting for Thibaut Courtois if he made one slip up after being preferred to the legend that is Petr Cech, but he was faultless and any headlines will be positive. I honestly think that not only is he currently the best in the business at collecting crosses, I must say I cannot remember ever seeing a goalkeeper more adept in that area. His shot-stopping is of course world-class as well, but it is hard to describe how happy it makes defenders when they know that any cross in the vicinity of the Belgian quite simply isn’t a danger. He makes a difficult skill look like child’s play. It was an understated master class on his competitive debut.
- There is further video analysis from Pat on Andre Schurrle available on demand.
After the game Andre said that he knows his team mates can and will pick him out when he goes long, so he will continue to do it. It adds the final weapon to what is already an impressive arsenal. On top of that we again look incredibly dangerous from good old-fashioned set-pieces with Ivanovic, JT, Matic, Costa and Cahill all hugely dangerous in that area.
Before the season started I was asked on various media outlets about who I thought would win the league and even before this impressive start I thought that Chelsea, because of the balance, the variety of threats and the quality of defenders were slight favourites in my eyes over Manchester City. I reckon quite a few more people may think that way after the first weekend.
It is however worth remembering that it is only the first weekend. We had very nearly a fully fit squad to choose from and that will not always be the case, so a reality check is always on the horizon, especially with many tougher tests to come. If however I was a City, Liverpool or Arsenal fan I would be in no doubt that this team, with this manager and his ability to adapt and change styles, (just consider the controlled performance in the second half to kill the game instead of getting over excited), is the one to watch.
I am already looking forward to the Leicester game at the weekend and for a variety of reasons. The biggest one of all is that I am looking forward to being entertained. We not only have what looks like a winning mentality throughout the group but also plenty who are capable of doing something extra special to get me off my seat and talking about them for the rest of the week. This time it was Cesc’s stunning one-touch pass to Schurrle, along with some brilliant dribbles from Eden Hazard, as well as an unstoppable display of intelligent running from our German World Cup winner. If we can keep this up, I think and hope there may be quite a few games this season where we can just sit back, watch and enjoy the show with a little less stress than we have been used to. Now wouldn’t that be nice?