Robben the catalyst as Chelsea dare to dream of the treble

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Roman Abramovich reacted with annoyance when he sat and watched Wayne Rooney's hat-trick against Fenerbahce on his Champions' League debut for Manchester United last month. Here was one young player lighting up Europe who had got away - because, it is believed, Chelsea's owner had been persuaded by the club's executive Peter Kenyon not to bid for the 19-year-old.

Roman Abramovich reacted with annoyance when he sat and watched Wayne Rooney's hat-trick against Fenerbahce on his Champions' League debut for Manchester United last month. Here was one young player lighting up Europe who had got away - because, it is believed, Chelsea's owner had been persuaded by the club's executive Peter Kenyon not to bid for the 19-year-old.

Kenyon did, however, lure another promising talent away from the clutches of Old Trafford last season. Arjen Robben was set to join Kenyon's former club until Chelsea usurped the deal and paid £12m for the winger from PSV Eindhoven. It was mocked by United as an inflated fee but on Tuesday his new employer started to see the dividend as Robben scored the winning goal against CSKA Moscow and turned in an accomplished man-of-the-match performance.

A persistent ankle injury had denied the 20-year-old his Chelsea debut until two weeks ago but such has been his form since then that he is already being talked about as the player who could make the difference this season. He has certainly made them more exciting.

"He's given us a real spark," said Frank Lampard in the aftermath of the victory in Moscow that meant Chelsea became the first club to win their Champions' League group. "He is very clever and gets the ball out from his feet quickly and runs at people and can put people in as well - similar to the way [Damien] Duff plays. With those two we have the kind of spark which maybe we have been missing a bit."

Duff's return has undoubtedly added to Chelsea's creativity. It had been thought that the two left-footers could not play together but Robben himself was quick to dispel that theory. "I'm sure we can play in the same team and I've always said that," he said.

Indeed the two combined for Chelsea's goal which not only highlighted their interchangeable roles but also - crucially - Robben's predatory instinct. "I'm pleased with my form," he said. "I feel very strong and am only going to get better. I don't have expectations when I come to a new club and only try to show what I can do and show my qualities. I'm always attacking, trying to pass people and create chances.

"It was a great goal to score and I finished it quite well. I knew what I was doing and last year in the Champions' League [for PSV against Deportivo La Coruña] I did exactly the same, going one way and shooting in the other corner. I got the ball on the right, saw Damien running into space and he flicked it back to me. It was a great combination with Damien and a good finish."

Mateja Kezman, Robben's team-mate last season in the Netherlands, as well as this, said: "he's one of the best players in Europe at the moment".

The striker added: "He's just 20 years old and has a fantastic future, but it's important to get a good start. He's dangerous with every touch of the ball and no opponent can keep him away from the goal, whether it's a free-kick, an assist or a goal. He's strong, quick and has two good feet, which means he can go inside or outside the opponent. He has everything that a top player needs and can beat players with one touch."

Chelsea's performance has fuelled their belief. Indeed their captain, John Terry, went so far as to say that they were "good enough" to emulate Manchester United's Premiership, Champions' League and FA Cup treble of 1999 - something his manager Jose Mourinho believes is unlikely. But Terry said: "We've definitely got the squad to do that."

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