The Stamford Bridge pitch was pretty deserted this week as the Chelsea’s luminaries headed far and wide to represent their countries in important World Cup qualifying matches. But as far as they can be considered successful for clubs, the Blues will be delighted with this international break so far.
Each one of Chelsea’s international stars who pulled on the shirt of their country this weekend experienced a positive result. Attacking midfielders Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne started as Belgium secured their place at the World Cup in Brazil next summer with an impressive 2-1 away victory over Croatia.
Thibaut Courtois, currently on loan at Atletico Madrid, started in goal while Romelu Lukaku, shipped out to Everton on deadline day, hit the back of the net twice. Jose Mourinho is likely to be increasingly twitchy sat in his lounge watching the international results come in, as his current crop of forwards – Demba Ba, Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o – continue to misfire.
But there were players currently based in west London who were on the scoresheet. Andre Schurrle, yet to score his first goal in a blue shirt, hit Germany’s second in a comfortable win over the Republic of Ireland, while Oscar continued his impressive vein of form be helping Brazil to a 2-0 win over South Korea.
Petr Cech was in goal as Czech Republic won 4-1 in Malta – though, that result isn’t enough to give them a chance of heading to South America next June. And England duo Gary Cahill and Frank Lampard started as England completed half a job by seeing off Montenegro 4-1 at Wembley. Both will be in Roy Hodgson’s starting XI again on Tuesday when the Three Lions expect to confirm their place at their fifth consecutive World Cup finals.
But the most pleasing aspect of these performances from a Chelsea point of view is that everyone came through their respective fixtures seemingly without picking up any new knocks or bruises. International breaks are dreaded by top clubs; at least one top player always seems to return with an injury of some degree, which is frustrating to the institution that pays the player’s wages week in, week out.
There’s another round of fixtures to go in midweek, but so far, so good on that front. The other satisfying conclusion that Mourinho and his staff can draw from these fixtures is that his players are in form, and in buoyant mood as the Premier League campaign prepares to enter its second quarter.
With vital fixtures with Cardiff, Schalke and Manchester City to come over the next fortnight, Chelsea fans will hope that morale remains high as they chase down early pace-setters Arsenal and Liverpool at the summit.
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