5 Things Learned: Chelsea 4-0 Juventus | Champions League
Chelsea ran riot in an emphatic 4-0 thumping of Juventus in the Champions League at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.
The Blues seized control of Group H by exacting a hearty measure of revenge on The Old Lady, after succumbing to a 0-1 loss in the reverse fixture earlier in the competition.
The first half was characterised by the hosts strangling the visitors in the press, along with a raft of half chances until Trevoh Chalobah thundered home a peach of a half volley that any striker would be proud of in the 25th minute.
Chelsea did not survive the first half unscathed, however, with N'Golo Kanté withdrawn through injury as the break loomed. It was a particularly galling blight on a positive first 45 for Thomas Tuchel and his men.
That development will sting, but Reece James' rapturous drive in the 55th minute - followed in short order with a deft Callum Hudson-Odoi finish just three minutes later - will have done much to numb the pain as it afforded the Champions of Europe control of their destiny in the defence of their crown. Timo Werner added insult to injury with a tap-in at the death
The Bianconeri were made to look incredibly ordinary by the ruthless hosts, and they will be undoubtedly licking their wounds on the flight back. Up next for the Pensioners is the hosting of Michael Carrick's Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday. In the meantime, here are five things we learned from Chelsea's win...
1) Trevoh Chalobah belongs on the big stage with his name up in lights
Making his first start in Europe's premier competition, the young Sierra Leonean did not look a hair out of place as he commemorated the occasion with his third goal at Stamford Bridge and helped deal with the enigmatic Federico Chiesa in a way that stalwart César Azpilicueta could not manage in the tie in Turin. Speaking at the press conference before the match, he said that Thomas Tuchel "just said to me it's better than I stay here", in spite of talk of his departure on another loan following successful spells at Lorient and Huddersfield. It is growingly appearing that Chelsea's head coach has been proven correct in his conviction, with 'Trev' showing he is dependably interchangeable with some of his more experienced peers like Andreas Christensen and Thiago Silva.
2) Chelsea possessing an active, potent threat from corners once again
Just the one goal came from the result of a set piece, but it is rather telling that the Blues followed up an aerially dangerous turn against Leicester this past Saturday with a similar demonstration here. Antonio Rüdiger's headed goal was followed up tonight with a scorcher from the aforementioned Chalobah, but there was a sense of optimism every time Hakim Ziyech and Reece James whipped the ball in this evening that a Chelsea head would get to it. It is something that has been sorely lacking for the most part since the days of now West Ham man Kurt Zouma dispatching them for fun. The influence of coach Anthony Barry is apparent for all to see in this regard. Thomas Tuchel shrewdly kept him as a member of his backroom staff upon his arrival, and he will no doubt be a big miss when he inevitably departs for pastures anew and the hotseat elsewhere, as has been rumoured for some time.
3) Reece James can hit them with the best of them
Not to be upstaged by his colleague in the centre-back slot behind him, the young Englishman added to his ever-growing portfolio of sweet strikes with a sumptuous drive that left a desperate Chiesa lying and former Arsenal no.1 Wojciech Szczęsny with absolutely no chance. The Chelsea right-back recently admitted he is in the best form of his career, but even that assessment may be too humble of a man who is known to let his football doing the talking. If 'unplayable' is a proper and correct term, then it certainly applies to who is surely the best wing-back in Europe at the moment, as is evidenced by performances like this. Spare a thought for Alex Sandro and Adrian Rabiot tonight, as the pair could not live with him.
4) Thomas Tuchel facing an early selection headache heading into an hellacious Christmas schedule
The loss of the illustrious and well-decorated N'Golo Kanté to injury is a great loss at any time, but the timing really could not be worse for Chelsea. With ten games ahead in one month of festive football - and the Croatian dynamo Mateo Kovacic also frequenting the physio room at the moment - it leaves the centre of the park looking precariously sparse indeed. A reinvigorated Ruben Loftus-Cheek, given a new lease of life by Tuchel and flourishing in a deeper '6' role, proved more than an able deputy tonight and a great share of the burden will be expected of him going forward. The burden will also be great for the UEFA Men's Player of the Year, Jorginho. But the two will struggle to hold it down alone, and other options appear limited. Where disaster occurs, opportunity can arise - step forward Saúl Ñíguez, who may well get the chance to build on his cameo tonight and kickstart a Chelsea career that is yet to take off following his deadline day loan from Atlético Madrid.
5) Alvaro Morata given a frosty reception on his return to Stamford Bridge
Blues' fans were hardly expected to roll out the welcome wagon for the Spaniard, who largely flopped after arriving at the club in 2017 for £58m. But the reception was especially hostile, with boos ringing out anytime he got within vicinity of possession. The former Real Madrid man is much maligned for what was perceived to be a poor physical presence and an even poorer defeatist mindset when things weren't going his way - which was a regular occurrence in a Chelsea career that promised much, but delivered just 16 goals. He almost silenced the home fans with a chip over Edouard Mendy in the first half, but Thiago Silva recovered superbly to clear off the line - emblematic of the in-form Brazilian having his number all evening.