Belgian Duo Ensure Important Win (by Gary Watton)


CourtoisThere used to be a joke about challenging people to name any famous Belgians. Well, high-flying Chelsea now boast two of the most famous Belgians on the planet. In fact, were it not for the combined efforts of Eden Hazard at one end of the field and Thibaut Courtois at the other end, then Chelsea would not have defeated West Ham, and indeed they might have been hammered by the Hammers.

Fortunately, big Courtois reminded us again why Petr Cech has to make do with a place on the bench. Admittedly his cause was assisted by some woeful finishing by Sakho who missed a sack ‘o’ chances. Mind you, Chelsea were not entirely blameless in front of goal either, as Ramires and Willian once more demonstrated their wastefulness in front of goal.

However, more alarming is the fact that the goals have dried up from the formerly red-hot Costa. Let’s face it. His effort in the cup final was going well wide of the goal until Walker kindly deflected the ball into the back of the net. Costa has not scored since the first-half rout of Swansea. In his defence, his campaign was then punctuated by the subsequent outcry and suspension, following the battle at home to Liverfools. Every striker is liable to have both a purple patch and a famine, and I’m afraid that DC may be experiencing the latter.

eden-hazard_2788463bStill, the Blues held on for a triumph which was rightly celebrated at the end as if we had won the league. Of course Liverpoor could remind us poignantly of the hazards of premature triumphalism, but the win in east London did feel like a massive step forward. It was a glowing example that a besieged Chelsea are the best in Europe at holding onto a 1-0 lead, but regrettably we are not the best in Europe at extending a 1-0 lead, which is why such occasions as last night make for painful viewing for the supporters, as Chelsea ride their luck and sometimes have to rely on poor finishing from their opponents.

It will certainly be good to welcome Matic back to the team, as his distribution is good and maybe we can return to dominating possession and bossing matches. This is not to denigrate his understudy, Kurt Zouma. Zouma has been a breath of fresh air to the first team. He is a wholehearted performer, and the Chelsea faithful are only too keen to see young talent getting promoted to dine at the top table, instead of being shunted off to season-long loans at Championship clubs.

The Premiership leaders now have one week to get their arses in gear for the likely onslaught from PSG, a team that must either win or achieve a high-scoring draw at the Bridge. I’m afraid that it is likely to be another nervy spectacle of siege defending. Let’s hope that two of the world’s most famous Belgians maintain their excellence next Wednesday night. Nothing short of a quality performance from them and their colleagues will suffice. In the meantime, let’s raise our glasses and toast a league double and two clean sheets against Sam Allardyce’s sophisticated West Ham disUnited.

Posted by Gary Watton

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