It was a routine victory for Chelsea as they cruised to a 4-1 win over Peterborough United in the FA Cup 3rd round encounter at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea dusted off the effects of the 2-0 midweek loss at Tottenham Hotspur to get back to winning ways as Antonio Conte’s men advanced to the fourth round of the FA Cup, overcoming League One side Peterborough United 4-1 on Sunday.
The Blues were troubled early on, but grew into the match to eventually grab the lead 18 minutes in, thanks to Pedro’s curling effort. Chelsea dominated the proceedings thereafter and deservedly doubled their lead with two minutes to go in the first half, as Michy Batshuayi drilled his shot into the back of the net.
The second half saw more of the same as Conte’s men came firing off the blocks, and they scored their third goal after just seven minutes, as Willian grabbed one for himself. However, Chelsea were put at a numerical disadvantage when John Terry was sent off for bringing Lee Angol down just outside the box.
That put a spring in the steps of the Peterborough players and Tom Nichols pulled one back for the visitors soon after, before Pedro completed a fine brace to round off an thumping win for Chelsea.
The Hard Tackle discusses a few talking points to emerge from what was a resounding Chelsea win.
Pedro Continues His Brilliant Form
The 2016/17 season has been one that has seen a resurgent Pedro take the field for Chelsea, after a dismal first season saw him struggle to settle to life in England. This season though, he has been back to his best, turning in electric performances in Chelsea’s attack alongside Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Willian.
On Sunday, he was deployed in an unfamiliar left wing back slot in Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 formation, but that didn’t peg the Spain international back as he broke the deadlock and ended the scoring to grab a well deserved brace.
11 – Pedro has been directly involved in more goals this season than the whole of last season for Chelsea (5 goals, 6 assists). Improved.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 8, 2017
The two goals took Pedro’s tally for the season to six goals, all of which have come at Stamford Bridge. However, he’d be gutted to not leave the Bridge with the match ball as he missed a golden chance just six yards out by hitting the cross bar only a few minutes after scoring the opener.
Nonetheless, it was yet another standout performance from the Spaniard who continues to excel under his new Italian boss.
Zouma Enjoys A Steady Comeback To Action
Kurt Zouma saw his 2015/16 season cruelly ended, as he suffered a devastating knee injury in a match against Manchester United in February that ruled him out of action for the remainder of the year.
However, he made slow, yet positive progress all through the year to ensure that he returned stronger than ever. And that he did, as he played his first match for Chelsea since making a full recovery from the blow on Sunday evening.
The return was a steady one for Zouma as he soon settled into a rhythm after shaking off the initial rustiness. And while he did have some jittery moments through the game, he gave a good account of himself as compared to Branislav Ivanovic and captain John Terry who had forgetful outings at the back.
With more minutes on the field, Zouma is likely to get back his rhythm and slowly get back to developing himself as one of the brightest young prospects in world football.
Terry Has A Return To Forget
If 2016/17 has been one of revival for Pedro, his captain has had a difficult campaign he’d like to forget very soon. John Terry started the season in a back four that struggled early on in the season. However, a change in system coupled with injury troubles saw him lose his place in the Chelsea side.
Antonio Conte handed a rare start to the club captain on Sunday, which was Terry’s first since October. This was his 50th start in the FA Cup, but much like this season, the match was one to forget for the former England captain.
John Terry’s red card is the first Chelsea have received in all competitions this season. pic.twitter.com/dTAELuDShD
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 8, 2017
Terry had a shaky return back to the first team, as even though he completed 100% of his passes, the Englishman managed to win just 20% of his duels. And his miserable evening was made even worse as he was sent off for bringing down Lee Angol as Peterborough set off on a counter attack.
It was the eighth red card in Terry’s career, and the first seen by a Chelsea player this season. However, Conte maintained that Terry didn’t deserve to be sent off, adding that Chelsea would lodge an appeal against referee Kevin Friend’s decision.
Chelsea Youngsters Impress
Chelsea have been formidable for large parts of the 2016/17 season, and Antonio Conte has stuck to playing a core group of players, with a handful of others getting their chances here and there.
That has seen opportunities come at a premium for the likes of Nathaniel Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and they have been restricted to occasional appearances off the bench. The FA Cup tie against Peterborough though, saw both academy graduates get a run, and the duo managed to impress.
Both the youngsters turned in dynamic performances, and gelled quickly with their teammates. The duo created a raft of goalscoring opportunities for each other and their teammates, and were superb all through the match.
And even though they failed to round off their respective performances by converting from the opportunities that came their way, both Chalobah and Loftus-Cheek can take heart from a positive performance on the night.
The Gulf In Class Was Clear
Antonio Conte sent out Chelsea’s second-string side, with just Pedro, Willian and Gary Cahill the regulars starting the match. However, Peterborough were second best all through the game, as they struggled to keep up with their superior hosts.
Chelsea’s attackers made merry by taking advantage of the acres of space available to them, and despite a defiant performance by goalkeeper Luke McGee, the Peterborough defence and midfield just couldn’t cope with the opposition attack.
The Peterborough attack had a comparatively better outing but a lack of ruthless streak saw them barely get a sniff at the Chelsea goal, with the sole open chance being converted by Tom Nichols in the 70th minute. Back to focussing on the League One for Grant McCann’s side.