Chelsea analysis: Pedro priceless while man-marking keeps Eden Hazard quiet

simon johnson

Chelsea's title credentials have not really been in doubt for several months, but the manner of their 3-0 win over Everton suggests they are no mood to allow nerves to get the better of them.

For more than an hour it remained goalless at Goodison Park but the air of confidence Antonio Conte's side carry meant it never felt as though they were in danger and there was a certain inevitability about the goals from Pedro, Gary Cahill and substitute Willian in the final 25 minutes.

That was not taking anything away from their opener - an unstoppable strike from the former Barcelona forward - but it was another of those typically attritional performances in which their quality ultimately shines through.

Simon Johnson assesses the key talking points at Goodison Park...

Loftus-Cheek and Co look on with envy at Everton youngsters


Granted Chelsea have a lot more at stake than Everton at the moment, but that won't stop the west london club's prodigies for being jealous at the opportunities given to their counter parts at Goodison Park.

While Ruben Loftus-Cheek wasn't even given a place on the substitute's bench, Everton had three of their academy players in the first XI.

Tom Davies has already been getting a lot of attention this term and the 18-year-old didn't disappoint this afternoon either. Just ask Diego Costa after one crunching tackle in the first half.

But 20-year-old's Dominic Calvert-Lewis, who hit the post in the second minute, and Mason Holgate had promising displays against the League leaders too.

It is hard to imagine Chelsea fielding one of their starlets on a regular basis in the near future, let alone three.

Lukaku makes life awkward for his potential future employers


In the press room at Goodison Park, a picture of Lukaku smiling away proudly wearing an Everton shirt is mounted on the wall. Of course in a few months time, it may have to be taken down.

The league's top scorer is refusing to sign a new contract and has set his sights on a return to Stamford Bridge.

Given his affection for Chelsea - he followed them and former striker Didier Drogba as a teenager - the cynics (or Spurs fans) might have wondered if he was going to try his hardest.

But despite limited service, Chelsea defenders were clearly scared of the 23-year-old's pace and physicality.

It is understandable - he had scored in nine straight league games for the blues of Merseyside.

One shot was sent just wide, he looked in agony when a cross just evaded him as his mere presence panicked Chelsea's defenders into mistakes.

Then just on the hour mark, he drove past David Luiz only to scuff his shot, much to the visitors' relief.

Hazard struggles with man-marking again


The last time Chelsea took a trip to the north west, Eden Hazard had Ander Herrera for company at Old Trafford and didn't cope too well. Everton clearly took note.

For two weeks later and just 35 miles down the road, the Belgium international had another shadow to contend with.

This time he had Idrissa Ghana Gueye for company and like Herrera, he couldn't shake him off all afternoon.

There was the odd menacing run and fancy flick. He could have also put Chelsea in front when he found the side-netting in the first half.

But overall his magic was subdued for long periods, despite his free kick which led to the second goal, and you can be sure future opponents will try the same tactics.

Barkley should leave Everton


There is so much speculation over whether Ross Barkley is going to sign a new contract at Everton, but he should leave for his own good.

Tottenham are one of the clubs looking to capitalise on the stand-off, which will see Barkley leave on a free transfer next year if terms aren't agreed.

The speed of Barkley's development at Everton has been the subject of much debate this season and whether the midfielder is making the most of his potential.

But it is easy to see why he finds things so hard when the home crowd get on his back with every mistake.

Even when he showed a nice bit of skill to generate a loud cheer, it was soon followed by loud groans and jeers when he was tackled.

It just seems the patience and backing shown to Davies no longer applies to him and will not be able to meet their demands. Perhaps it's time for a fresh start elsewhere.

Pedro returns to goal-scoring form when it matters


The former Barcelona star has had a very good season for Chelsea, but there had been a growing suspicion he was starting to feel the pace of a long campaign.

After weighing with some crucial strikes during the winter months, Pedro had gone eight games without a goal.

Pedro's ability to contribute is vital for Antonio Conte's side when Diego Costa and Hazard get so much close attention.

With neither of Chelsea's star duo at their best, one wondered how the Blues of London would break the deadlock.

Pedro, a man who has 20 major trophies from his time at Barcelona, showed his pedigree with a stunning strike to stun Everton and perhaps a Tottenham outfit watching the game back in north London.

From that moment Chelsea could finally cruise to three points, but it took that moment of magic to change the game.

This is the quality Chelsea spent £21.4m for in August 2015 and it could be regarded as priceless with the end of the season just three weeks away.