Chelsea might have had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Stoke City on Saturday, but it was pretty clear from the offset that the Blues always had one eye on the midweek clash against PSG in the Champions League.
Sitting in a mid-table position, the Blues do not really have much to fight for in the Premier League, but they still have hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, if they win the continental tournament. This seems to have led them to prioritise the continental competition over the domestic one.
Hence, a number of their top players were rested during the weekend match against Stoke, while a few of the younger guns were given time on the pitch. The most notable of them was Bertrand Traore, who has now featured in two games in a row.
“As young players they are big opportunities for us,” Traore was quoted as saying by Chelsea’s official website. “We have to push, knock on the door and work hard in training.”
Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas were both rested for this game, while Bertrand Traore got the nod up front, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek was brought on in midfield in the second half. Traore even scored the goal that put Chelsea into the lead in the first half.
Blues captain John Terry feels that interim manager Guus Hiddink is doing a great job in bringing out the younger talents from the club, and giving them ample chances to prove their worth.
“The manager’s showing that he’s got faith in the younger players,” Terry was quoted as saying by ESPN. “He’s rotating in some big games to give the young boys a chance, and more importantly for me they’ve come on and done great as well, which not only helps their cause but also the younger players as well because it gives them belief that within the Chelsea dressing room there is still hope for the academy.”
Can Chelsea avoid making the same mistakes?
The Blues must have been kicking themselves when they saw just how well their former player Kevin De Bruyne was playing, first at Wolfsburg and then at Manchester City after his big money move. The Belgian, who barely got the chance to start in a game at Chelsea, has now become one of the regular starters for City.
The club has come under heavy criticism in the past for having lost a host of talented young players under their roster, without really giving them much game time on the pitch.
However, Hiddink seems to be making a change for the better in that department, as he steers Chelsea through what remains of their shattered season. The likes of Traore, Baba Rahman, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have all been getting regular game time under the Dutchman, which has given the Blues’ faithful something to look forward to in league games that are otherwise of little consequence.