Traoré Is A Good Replacement For Costa, Hiddink A Key Figure At Chelsea – Looking Back At The 1-1 Draw vs Stoke

Owing to the fantastic stint Guus Hiddink has had till now as in-charge of the Blues ever since his return to London, he seems to have shown Premier League defeats an exit door. Playing hosts to the in-form Potters wasn’t really a breeze, to be honest. In fact, calling it a fairly even match would be taking Chelsea’s back against a proactive Stoke unit that never ceased to make the most out of the underhit passes and poor touches on check-tos.

The home side lacked quality in midfield and sorely missed a Fabregas as and when they needed better distribution of the ball. Speaking of missing faces around the park, temper-king Diego Costa didn’t embrace this tie at Stamford Bridge. Taking his place was an initially reluctant turned opening goalscorer starting for the first time.

Bertrand Traoré, who didn’t seem very impactful until that magnificent left-foot cracker stunned Butland watching the ball go high into the far side of the goal. As a cutting comeback to Chelsea’s lead, Mame Biram Diouf struck a late 85th-minute equalizer heading home a poor parry on a cross from Courtois spoiling the Blues’ best laid plans of earning a full-three points.

Diouf probably should have had two goals of two excellent Stoke counters but then he made up for the lost opportunities redeeming himself to the Stoke folks!

Noting that Chelsea’s priority will be the upcoming UEFA Champions League round-of-16 second-leg clash against Paris Saint-Germain, Hiddink rested key men to eliminate risks in the future.

3 Things We Learned From This Tie have got to be in order of their occurrence:

Stoke’s midfield play was more fluid than Chelsea

Chelsea were at the threshold of making several silly errors throughout the first half and seemed to be specializing in giving the ball away to a much inspired Stoke side full of endeavor. The midfield looked really poor questioning Nemanja Matic’s lackluster presence and an unnoticeable interceptor.

The visitors on the flip side, opened the clash in a confident mood and actually looked the better team for periods, with January signing Giannelli Imbula impressive in particular up against Chelsea’s anchors. Shaqiri and Afellay looked way too superior than the likes of Oscar and Willian. Although, Eden Hazard lifted a lot of the hopes up, he continued to feel his anonymity with the scoresheet.

The Potters gutted out more gleaming chances at goal and had a much more fluid central game in front of the goal lining up spaces for Diouf repeatedly. Their much-deserved secured point might have challenged at getting a bargain for three points instead of settling for a draw.

Guus Hiddink doesn’t seem to loosen his grip on staying unbeaten

During his tenure as manager at Stamford Bridge, one of the constant factors he has been vary of is the way he controls his player attitudes and his sound sensibility in sketching out line-ups. The Dutchman now has the longest unbeaten spell from the beginning of a managerial spell in Premier League history, with 12 matches. With a great start to the season as interim manager, Chelsea may want to think twice about replacing Guus Hiddink as manager next season. This run of form has been quite a turnaround from Jose Mourinho’s reign, which had led to the Blues languishing in 16th with 15 points after 16 games.

Since the arrival of Hiddink, Chelsea have risen to 10th and have an outside chance of qualifying for Europe with their current points haul of 40 in 29 matches. This man doesn’t seem to loosen his grip on staying unbeaten for a while now.

Chelsea rested their key men and almost paid for it

Diego Costa missed Saturday’s clash with a tendon injury while Cesc Fabregas started on the bench as Hiddink chose to play a central-midfield tandem of Nemanja Matic and John Obi Mikel. Meanwhile, Branislav Ivanovic continued in central defence in place of the injured John Terry. Although, the Brazilian duo Willian and Oscar made their best efforts to seal a late winner for the Blues, substitute striker Loic Remy didn’t give Hiddink’s side the same reliable presence in attack.

In the absence of the London side’s giant stars, the home outfit were almost made to pay for their late intent, too, after Stoke forward Bojan Krkic ghosted through their defence only to fall at the final hurdle in added time. As a matter of learning, Chelsea’s priority is set at their second-leg PSG clash and thus realize the importance of key players in important games. But this time round, they just saved themselves from getting pegged further after a 90-mins of less possession and creative flow.

The 20-year-old, Traoré collected his fourth goal in five games and scorched a shot inside Jack Butland’s left post that stayed in, leaving no stone turned on proving his ability to fill in for the absent Costa, as a positive takeaway from the game though.

 

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