The result may have been flattering of what was a largely flat attacking performance, but after the consecutive losses to Everton and Basel which followed the previous international break, no doubt the three points and +3 GD will have been taken gratefully by Mourinho yesterday. Upon reflection, it’s easy to feel positive about the game; three of the goals were very well taken whilst Cardiff barely managed to sustain a period of pressure for more than 90 seconds. Until the 65th minute though, there was a lot of frustration stemming from our inability to turn possession into decent chances. That the manager felt the need to risk playing with only three at the back for a period, in order to beat one of the smaller teams in the division for the second match in a row, raises some reasonable concerns too.
Petr Cech – In the premier league fixture which pits the division’s best goalkeeper against arguably the division’s worst, our #1 had a predictably quiet day. While David Marshall was getting practically everything wrong at the other end, Cech was solid, making one particularly impressive and important save against Kim in the second half. 6/10.
Branislav Ivanovic – The Serb has re-adjusted back to right back well since the beginning of the season but his lack of skill as an attacking full back was particularly apparent yesterday. He took up plenty of good positions, linking well with Mata and Willian but did next to nothing with them. 4/10
David Luiz –Though his error leading to Cardiff’s goal was pretty terrible, the real disappointment with the Brazilian’s performance yesterday was his response across the rest the game. Clearly desperate to atone he was drawn into making several unnecessary mistakes, serving more ammunition to the critics of his temperament.3/10
John Terry – Our other centre half meanwhile, did absolutely nothing to refute the manager’s claims yesterday that he is back to his best, after two relatively disappointing years. Not the most challenging of days for him but he did everything spot on, including three or four perfect long diagonal passes to the right wing. 7/10
Ryan Bertrand – Did a good job of making sure no one missed Ashley Cole; looking a lot more assured and comfortable getting forward than Ivanovic too. He showed his quality with the ball at his feet to dribble out of couple of potentially dangerous situations also. 6/10
Ramires – The Brazilian is becoming more of linchpin in this new Chelsea side with every game that passes, doing as much as anyone to help maintain a high block and win the ball back quickly. The speed and accuracy of his short range passing seems to be improving as well. 7/10
Frank Lampard – Starting to look better in this deeper position after a long run of games and was very tidy yesterday, playing one great pass in particular to assist Hazard for the final goal. Whether he can be as useful against Manchester City next weekend, remains to seen. I’m still skeptical personally. 6/10
Willian – Overall, a good first home league start for the Brazilian who was afforded noticeably less creative freedom than his midfield colleagues, yet worked hard and contributed regarldess. You could argue the role he played yesterday would’ve been more suited to Kevin De Bruyne – whatever Willian’s role will be in this Chelsea side long term, you don’t see it being as a runner along the right wing. 5/10
Juan Mata – Starting in his preferred #10 position for the first time in the league this season, the Spaniard had very little room to work with over the first hour before being substituted. Looked sharp with his passing, can’t help but feel he would’ve thrived with the space Oscar enjoyed in the far more open final 20 minutes. 6/10
Eden Hazard – Was criticised by some after the first half for taking liberties in attacking positions and providing very little, but became much more effective in the second half, linking brilliantly with Samuel Eto’o and scoring his first ever brace for Chelsea. Personally, I believe fans should be reserved about criticising Hazard for taking risks the way he did yesterday, more so than any other player we have, he’s got this incisive and unpredictable aspect to game that needs to consistently exercise – even if it means the occasional dud performance. 8/10
Samuel Eto’o – Disappointingly after scoring a very well taken (and match winning) debut goal for Chelsea, it was the Cameroonians contribution to our first goal that made the headlines, after the striker rather dishonourably and illegally knocked a bouncing ball from the goalkeeper’s hands. Moreover, I think Eto’o is a great option to have against these smaller sides who will defend so deeply; the variety and intelligence of his movement makes him really difficult to mark and also helps provide precious room for the attacking midfielders in the squad. His chemistry with Eden Hazard on the left flank looks promising. 7/10
To conclude then, another important win scraped out while Manchester United lost points once again, as the good form of Cech, Terry, Ramires and Oscar continues to drag us through this difficult opening few months. These next two upcoming games against Schalke and Man City will require some stronger collective performances. Two good results could get us finally up and running for good this season.