Chelsea made light work of Azerbaijan side Qarabag, thrashing them 6-0 in their return to the Champions League at Stamford Bridge.
Pedro opened the scoring five minutes in, firing in unmarked from the edge of the box, after a well-worked short corner. Next, a moment mixed with luck and brilliance, as full debutant Davide Zappacosta beat three players down the right hand side, before overhitting a cross that flew into the top corner. Ten minutes into the second half, a delightful ball into the box from Cesc Fabregas, was headed home emphatically by Cesar Azpilicueta, his sixth goal in a Chelsea shirt. It was then Tiemoue Bakayoko’s turn to capitalise on poor defending, firing home after the ball fell to him inside the box. Another defensive error gave Michy Batshuayi to fire excellently into the bottom corner, before a Qarabag own goal rounded off an easy night for the blues.
This marked our fourth straight victory in all competitions. Antonio Conte’s side will be full of confidence going into a testing home game against Arsenal on Sunday.
Here are four things we learned from Tuesday night’s straightforward win.
Changes work wonders
Antonio Conte’s decision to make five changes to the starting eleven from Leicester proved a masterclass in itself. The faith the Italian showed in Andreas Christiansen to replace David Luiz, was proven worthy, as Christiansen led by example at the back. Michy Batshuayi took advantage of his first starting opportunity, scoring a fine goal, and gaining some much-needed confidence. Davide Zappacosta showed throughout he was capable of marshalling the right hand side with ease, claiming a goal and an assist as well. Willian and Gary Cahill also showed they were worthy of the trust shown in them by the manager.
Perfect start to the group stage
With Atletico Madrid and Roma drawing 0-0 in Rome, Chelsea’s win ensured the team top the group comfortably after the first round of matches. The victory equalled the blues biggest win ever in Europe, which was against Maribor back in 2014. After a year of absence from the competition involving Europe’s elite, Chelsea have returned in style, and with a squad boosted by some late signings, going a long distance in the Champions League this season does not seem out of the question.
Davide Zappacosta introduction is good for Victor Moses
This may be a bit premature, but after the eventful display by Italian Davide Zappacosta, the Nigerian’s position may be under threat, although, this is not at all a bad thing. Moses has been the only effective selection choice at the club for some time, and thanks to Zappacosta. he now as extremely tough competition to retain his place. This will no doubt bring out the best in both full backs, which is obviously a positive selection headache for Conte.
Bigger challenges ahead
Chelsea’s dominant victory should not be over-exaggerated. Qarabag managed only five touches in our penalty area throughout the whole game. The lack of composure on the ball was evident, and also the inability to press and show intent was clear to be seen. As the old cliche goes, “you can only beat what’s in front of you,” yet it is clear for Chelsea, the other teams in the group will be in a different league to Qarabag, so we should not get ahead of ourselves. Arguably, the biggest test in our group is next, travelling to Madrid to face the Spanish giants Atletico. There, Chelsea will really discover what they are made of.