Chelsea 2 WBA 0
When Jose Mourinho struggles to remember a better start to a season than the one his current crop of Blues have made, you know they are something special.
Chelsea have 32 points from their opening 12 League games, dropping points only in draws against Manchester City and United, and few neutrals expect the title to end up anywhere other than Stamford Bridge by season’s end.
It could be decided even sooner if Mourinho’s men manage to reproduce regularly performances like the one against West Brom, particularly the opening 45 minutes when they should have gone for their half-time oranges – or whatever they have these days – with a five-goal lead.
That they had only two goals to show for their complete mastery of the opposition, who were reduced to ten men in the 28th minute when Claudio Yacob was sent off for a lunge on Diego Costa, owed much to the ability of Ben Foster in the West Brom goal. The goalkeeper waged a sometimes lone battle against Chelsea’s multi-faceted attack, who did score twice in the opening 25 minutes through Diego Costa and Eden Hazard.
The latter was denied twice by Foster, as was Oscar, while John Terry was also foiled by the keeper in as one-sided a first-half as you could wish to see.
Mourinho’s only complaint was that his side should have won by a larger margin, but he was loath to criticise after such a stirring display.
“It was beautiful, amazing, and I don’t recall seeing football of that dimension many times at Stamford Bridge.”
Cesc Fabregas, who played in a few decent sides at Arsenal and Barcelona, added: “In the first half, I don’t think I am exaggerating if I say that I don’t remember playing and enjoying a football match as much as this.”
Chelsea have set a new club record of 12 games unbeaten at the start of a top-flight season and Mourinho cannot recall many better starts, either in his previous spell at the club, or with Inter or Real Madrid. “Maybe Madrid when we got to 100 points, or maybe the second season at Chelsea when we won the title for the second time.
In fact the last time a title-winning side of Mourinho’s matched this start was the Porto side who won the Portuguese league in 2003-04.
That was the same year Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ went a whole season unbeaten, but Mourinho does not believe his side can emulate them. “In football, it is difficult to predict these things. What I always say is that when you play so well like we are doing now, you don’t have to be afraid of bad results. A bad result will arrive, but it is difficult to have a negative period of bad results with a team that plays as well as we do.”
Alan Irvine, West Brom’s shell-shocked manager, agreed that the bookmakers should not be paying out on Chelsea as champions yet but admitted the Blues are the best team he has seen this season.
“Their passing, movement and combination play is excellent. They are a really good team and it will be extremely difficult for anyone who comes up against them. In the form they are in at the moment they are strong favourites but this is a very tough league and there is a lot of work to be done yet. I am sure Jose Mourinhho would agree.”
Mourinho’s biggest worry during the first third of the season was over the fitness of Diego Costa, the Brazilian-born Spain international who has brought the goalscoring edge Chelsea sorely lacked last season.
Costa had a recurring hamstring injury at the end of his time with Atletico Madrid and carried it through the summer’s disastrous World Cup with Spain and into his early days at Chelsea.
Mourinho kicked up such a fuss about Costa joining up with Spain earlier in the season that he was spared international duty last week, and has clearly benefited from intensive physiotherapy.
“Diego is fully fit now. It was important for him to have these two weeks to recover properly, and it’s easy to see the difference in him.”
While Sergio Ramos questioned Costa’s commitment to Spain last week, Mourinho mocked his former Real Madrid player. “Sergio Ramos is a fantastic football player, but he is not a doctor. I am the same.
“Our doctor and the doctor of the Spanish national team looked at the scans and they decided that the player was not in a condition to play. I am nobody to go against it. I don’t think Sergio did a medicine masters (degree) in the last couple of years to understand more about it.”
CHELSEA: Courtois 7; Ivanovic 7, Cahill 7, Terry 7, Azpilicueta 7; Fabregas 7, Matic 8; Willian 6, Oscar 8, Hazard 7; Costa 7.
Subs: Remy for Oscar 79, Drogba for Costa 83, Ramiers for Willian 86.
WBA: Foster 9: Wisdom 6, Lescott 6, Dawson 6, Baird 5; Dorrans 6, Gardner 6, Yacob 5, Brunt 6; Sessegnon 5, Berahino 6.
Subs: Gamboa for Baird 67, Anichebe for Berahino 78, Morrison for Dorrans 86.
Referee: Lee Mason.
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