Chelsea had a rocky start to the 2013-14 season. Squad chemistry and a team identity were lacking, and many questioned some major changes from last year’s side. Yet, the utmost faith was placed in Jose Mourinho and the confidence that the Special One exudes is now beginning to percolate its way through the squad.
This belief has not been more apparent this season than in Chelsea’s last two games. After dominating title rivals Manchester City, there was always a chance that the next match could turn out to be a trap game. Today’s performance was nothing of the sort. Mourinho’s Chelsea dominated eighth-ranked Newcastle United from start to finish. The tempo, as well as the lion’s share of possession, was controlled by the home side.
Every Chelsea player who started the game played fantastically, but it was the incredible Belgian, Eden Hazard, who was a head above the rest. The attacking midfielder-winger carved up the Toon back line all game and absolutely deserved his 64-minute hat-trick. Each of his goals from open play were stunning dedications to team buildup and crisp finishing. Just as his name suggests, he was hazardous to Newcastle’s defense as they continued to allow him space in the final third — sorry for the pun.
To Newcastle’s credit, Alan Pardew‘s side had their fair share of chances. A beautiful through-ball fed Moussa Sissoko in on goal, only for the midfielder to lose his one-on-one to Petr Cech. Hatum Ben Arfa gave Cech some work in the first half and loanee Luuk de Jong had a chance to pull one back, but his header did not connect well and was collected easily by the Czech shot stopper.
All in all, it was an easy outing for the Blues, who, with this win, climb atop the Premier League with 56 points in 25 matches. Mohamed Salah made his debut for the Blues and nearly bagged his own souvenir in the dying minutes, despite looking a bit shaky in his first Premier League outing.
Elsewhere, Arsenal were destroyed 5-1 by Liverpool at Anfield and Manchester City were held to a 0-0 draw by Norwich City.
Chelsea look ahead to a fixture-packed week where they will travel to West Bromwich, then to Manchester City for the FA Cup and finish at home with an important league game against fifth-ranked Everton.