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Frightening Chelsea lay down title marker to misfiring Manchester City

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Diego Costa contributed two goals to the Blues
cause as they blew Everton away at Goodison
Park and it looks as though their struggles of last
season are well behind them
Aug 30, 2014 22:15:00
By Peter Staunton at
Goodison Park
Jose Mourinho spent last
season pretending that he
was satisfied with his striking
options. At home, however,
against the Premier League's lesser sides, Chelsea
were often incapable of turning their solid
possession into something more tangible - goals.
With Fernando Torres now officially written off as a
flop and packed off to AC Milan and Demba Ba
doing similar at Besiktas, Mourinho fortified his
attacking line-up in the pre-season.
Didier Drogba replaced Samuel Eto'o in the veteran
role while the pace of imminant arrival Loic Remy
will give Chelsea even more firepower. It would not
be remiss to say at this stage, however, that Diego
Costa is the difference between Chelsea being mere
title hopefuls and Chelsea leading the Premier
League race from the front.
He dominated Everton, quite literally from minute
one to 90, with a goal at either end to bookend this
tie. There could have been more besides for the
strapping Spain international, who looked
composed and at home as the mischief-maker in
Mourinho's team.
The Chelsea manager's natural inclination is usually
to shut teams down once his own has their noses in
front. Doing that here merely played into Everton's
hands. Roberto Martinez likes his team to have the
ball and be the aggressors. The Blues sitting deep
and allowing the hosts on preceded the goal from
Kevin Mirallas which allowed Everton to knock at the
It was not due to their defensive strength or tireless
work rate in midfield that Chelsea won this game so
convincingly - it was the fact, that in the second half,
they showed that they are willing and capable of
going on the attack in an attempt to see the game
"At half time we were winning 2-1," Mourinho said
after. "I was telling them that against a team like
Everton you cannot sit back and defend for 45
minutes. You have to try to hurt them, you have to
try to score goals."
This edict was demonstrated most precisely in the
performance of Nemanja Matic. Often a pivot in
Mourinho's midfield who scarcely crosses the
halfway line, he was aggressive and dominant all
along the middle third. He claimed a goal and an
assist and led the fight capably.
Cesc Fabregas will be central to any Chelsea assault
on the Premier League title and Champions League
and here he demonstrated his capabilities right
from the outset. He had too much space in midfield
and, in the absence of significant pressure, he
played an immaculate pass to the run of Costa.He was the man, too, who should have provoked a
red card for Tim Howard. Fabregas' pass for Eden
Hazard was again well-judged. The American raced
from his goal and handled outside the area. The
incident was missed by Jon Moss and his assistant
referee and Everton escaped. The game was 10
minutes old at that stage and the hosts were
already two down, as good as beaten.
Chelsea maintained that intensity which served
them well from the beginning. A Ramires pass to
Branislav Ivanovic caught Leighton Baines playing
an attempted offside trap badly and the Serb made
no mistake.
At that stage there was a palpable energy about the
visitors. Matic broke up the play and gave it to those
in yellow more skilled than he is. Willian linked the
play together. Fabregas buzzed menacingly.
Just like that, however, they lapsed back into old
habits. Mourinho favours seeing games out after
taking leads but, much like Everton's retreat against
Arsenal last time out, Chelsea's dropping-off played
to the Toffees' strengths. They hadn't really tested
Thibaut Courtois in any meaningful way but Seamus
Coleman's perfect centre found the run of Kevin
Mirallas and the Blues had their wake-up call.
"I want the team to play the way we did," Mourinho
said of what followed. "I want the team to be
The second half had them on the back foot, too,
with Everton coming at them in waves but they saw
it off. Hazard danced away from James McCarthy;
the ball was diverted home by the unlucky Seamus
Coleman. Then they went toe to toe. Naismith got in
on the act but it was futile. The more Everton score,
the more Chelsea score.
Gloss was added by Ramires, who played brilliantly,
before Costa ended it in injury time. There were
mistakes, there was vulnerability. But unlike
Manchester City, whose home loss to Stoke City
bore semblance to Chelsea's travails last season,
Mourinho's side had the appetite to add more goals
at the other end.
It was a frightening display of power.

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