Chelsea were impressive in their 4-0 win over Israeli champions Maccabi Tel Aviv, keeping a clean sheet for the first time this season and finally showing a bit of attacking flair.
But the Blues were hardly tested by their opponents and after a fast start cruised to a victory - Arsenal are just around the corner on Saturday but a comfortable, impressive win was just what was needed after a terrible start to the season.
Jose Mourinho made six changes to his team, dropping under-performing stars for some fresh blood and fringe players. Did they do enough to warrant a start against the Gunners?
Azpilicueta has to start on the right against Arsenal
Playing on the right, 'Dave' was much better than anything Branislav Ivanovic has done this season. Where the Serbian has looked ponderous in attack and out of sorts in defence, the Spaniard looked threatening when he burst forward and defended with his typical relish. Alexis Sanchez is Arsenal's man on the left and Ivanovic is the team's biggest weakness at the moment. Azpilicueta would be a better match for the Chilean.
Chelsea vs Maccabi Tel-Aviv - player ratings
Chelsea vs Maccabi Tel-Aviv - player ratings
1/12 CHELSEA: Asmir Begovic
Didn't have much to do in the first half but was confident when called into action. 7/10
2/12 Cesar Azpilicueta
Was confident in Ivanovic's normal position of right back and did not look troubled despite switching sides. 7
3/12 Kurt Zouma
Made some strong tackles and clearances in first half to deny Maccabi whenever they ventured forwards and worked well with Cahill in central defence. 6
4/12 Gary Cahill
Put in an improved showing despite being omitted from the line up to face Everton and came out to clear his lines when needed. 7
5/12 Baba Rahman
Was handed his debut against Maccabi and did well. The left back pushed forwards regularly to attack - blazing a free kick wide in the first half. And although his forays forwards left spaces behind him, he ensured he tracked back to defend. 7
6/12 Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Replaced Matic in the defensive midfield position and the 19-year-old injected energy and pace into the side. His overzealous beginning to the match saw him get a yellow card for a foul on Mitrovic - after just 48 seconds - but he did well to protect the defence as well as set up Costa. 8
7/12 Cesc Fabregas
Was more involved than in previous games and provided the superb pass that Costa scored his fine volley from before he tapped into an open net to score in the dying minutes of the match. 8
Settled the Chelsea fans' nerves with his fine curling free kick in the 15th minute that gave the home side the lead. Was taken off soon after with a hamstring injury. 7
Looked bright on his return from injury and scored Chelsea's second of the night with a composed penalty. The Brazilian was brought off for Ramires after a positive showing and is likely to start against Arsenal. 7
10/12 Eden Hazard
Despite letting himself down by firing a fourth-minute penalty high, the Belgian's pace and threat from the left flank caused Maccabi problems particularly in the first half. Indeed it was his run that led to him being fouled, from which Willian opened the scoring from. 6
11/12 Loic Remy
Started the game up front as the lone striker and used his pace to get past Maccabi's defence several times - winning the penalty that Hazard missed. But he faded after being pushed out onto the right wing to accommodate Costa. Still, he was involved in the build-up play for Fabregas' goal and will have given Mourinho something to think about ahead of Arsenal. 7
12/12 FROM THE BENCH: Diego Costa
Replaced the injured Willian and after a relatively quiet first half, scored a brilliant volleyed goal in the second period. Despite being heavily marked, the striker caused Maccabi all sorts of problems. A good showing from the Brazilian. 8
Baba's mixed debut
For Azpilicueta to start that would mean risking the raw, but promising, Baba Rahman on the left. The Ghanaian had an interesting debut and is clearly a very gifted athlete, possessing great pace and strength. He is a tremendous asset going forward and unlike Azpilicueta, who tends to cut inside and slow down the play, Rahman was always willing to burst past Eden Hazard and provide an option on the overlap. He started a bit nervously in defence, jumping into tackles and overcommitting, but eventually settled into a good attacking showing, bar a couple of wayward deliveries. But most of the danger came down his side as he was often up the pitch and out of position. He would have to play a more disciplined role if he starts against Arsenal.
Fabregas performs, Hazard continues to struggle
Jose Mourinho dropped a number of his under-performing stars for this game, with John Terry, Nemanja Matic and Diego Costa joining Ivanovic on the bench. Two of last season's standout players, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard, have both been awful this season, and Mourinho would have been hoping that they could find a bit of form against the Israeli champions. While that was true for Fabregas, who controlled the midfield, played a number of important passes and created a goal, Hazard continued to look short of form and confidence. Not just the awful early penalty miss, Hazard never attacked his man and spent a lot of time seeming to shy away from attacking his man. Troubling.
John Terry should return
Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma were barely troubled by Maccabi, but that doesn't mean either did enough to replace John Terry for the Arsenal game. The one chance the visitors came in the first-half was when they swung in a free-kick - the Chelsea defence was all at sea and Maccabi should have scored from a free header. Terry is a master organiser and hasn't done enough wrong to warrant missing the massive clash.
Saturday too soon for impressive Loftus-Cheek
This was a really exciting performance from the rangy midfielder, who was booked in the first minute but then settled into an eye-catching display. In the first-half he was always willing to drive at the heart of the Maccabi team and he has great feet to find a pass. He's not quite the best tackler yet, but he is quick enough and clever enough to cover the ground and snuff out attacks. But Arsenal are, obviously, a different proposition to Maccabi. Loftus-Cheek won't get as much room against Francis Coquelin and Co and his lung-busting style very clearly took a toll on the 19-year-old; by the time he was taken off after 70 minutes he could barely jog, let alone drive the team.
Unfortunate for Willian
The Brazilian started really well for the Blues before being hamstrung. He has often struggled to make his mark on matches, often showing a lack of bravery and aggression in attacking his defender. But at Stamford Bridge he was positive and looking to get on the front foot at every opportunity - he anticipated the loose pass to win the penalty and swung in the opening goal. It's a shame his injury came after just 20 minutes, this is the kind of positive performance Chelsea fans have been desperate for from Willian.
Oscar continues to frustrate
The Brazilian returned from injury and again found himself on the scoresheet, making it two goals in two starts this season (he hasn't played since the opening day draw with Swansea). But like in that game, it's difficult to see what else he really brough to the team. He is always a hard worker, but playing in that No 10 role he does not have the vision or the inclination to really create for his team-mates. With every passing match it seems as if Mourinho made the wrong choice to keep Oscar over Juan Mata back in January 2014. Pedro and/or Willian will surely return in place of Oscar.
Remy doesn't get his chance
We didn't really get to see what Remy could do as the central striker as he only lasted 20 minutes before moving out wide because of injury to Willian. Despite his pace, the Frenchman is not really suited to a role on the right wing, and often looks lost, both as an attacker and a defender. Not really fair to judge him. Costa played his best game of the season, winning a penalty and then scoring a fantastic volley. But he still looked more interested in wrestling the centre-backs than helping his team. Much room for improvement.Reuse content