As I mentioned in my match preview, there could hardly be a better way to bounce back from a damaging league defeat than to seal progression into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
On an evening in which the revered Dider Drogba made his much-anticipated return to Stamford Bridge, Samuel Eto’o’s third minute strike preceded Gary Cahill’s emphatic tap-in as we comfortably booked our place in the quarter-final draw.
Oscar is back
Oscar, as confirmed by Jose Mourinho, had been experiencing a winter slump. Following a few uninspiring displays, the Brazilian midfielder showed signs of emerging from the disheartening period with a scintillating individual performance.
He was instrumental in most of the attacking moves, assisting Eto’o for his opener and generally contributing healthily to our advancement. His link-up play with the superb Eden Hazard and brilliant Willian was admirable.
He was also heavily involved in Cahill’s goal, pressuring Galatasaray full-back Alex Telles into conceding a corner.
The 23 year-old will be of greater importance on Saturday, given the respective absences of Willian and Ramires when Arsenal visit the Bridge.
Eto’o should start
Eto’o, indisputably, contributes more than Fernando Torres. The Cameroonian, who was an absurd omission at Villa Park as Torres laboured in our defeat, has developed a propensity to influence games, scoring goals and using his experience to gain advantages. Torres hardly imposes himself on matches, rather disappears in the midst of them. The Spaniard replaced Eto’o and was presented with a glorious opportunity, wasted as his timid strike was directed too close to Fernando Muslera.
Eto’o additionally links up well with the offensive trio behind him, contrasting to Torres’s ineptitude to do so.
Eto’o should start on Saturday, and as we well know, he thrives on the big occasions.
Cole not in Jose’s plans
If Ashley Cole’s future at Chelsea required confirmation, Mourinho has offered it in recent weeks, omitting the England full-back from the matchday squad, in preference of Cesar Azpilicueta and Tomas Kalas respectively. The Czech defender even came on for his Champions League debut in stoppage time.
Azpilicueta fully vindicated Jose’s faith in him once again with a defensively solid performance. The Spaniard stifled the threat posed by Didier Drogba, even dispossessing the Ivorian on occasion, an achievement not common-place.
Hazard can win us trophies
Eden Hazard’s mercurial excellence once again played a pivotal role in our victory, bewildering the terrible Galatasaray defence with his adept dribbling and intelligently relentless movement. The Belgian has proved crucial in our charge to the Premier League summit, scoring 13 goals and contributing richly to the cause. Now, he promises to lead us into the latter stages of the Champions League.
Cahill and Terry are a dynamic duo
With Cahill and John Terry complimenting each other superbly, it comes as no surprise that the duo have conceded the least amount of goals in the Premier League. The former’s athleticism and the latter’s experience and nous was the foundation of our comfortable passage into the quarter-finals.
Both seem to have formed an excellent understanding, defending cohesively and providing a goal threat when they found themselves in attacking positions – and a goal, coming from Terry’s header which Muslera was unable to hang onto and Cahill’s tap-in. Terry could have also scored spectacularly before that, volleying over the bar as he exploited the space left behind by the dodgy Turkish back-line.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Ramires, Lampard, Willian, Oscar, Hazard, Eto’o.
Subs: Schwarzer, Kalas, David Luiz, Mikel, Schurrle, Ba, Torres.
Galatasaray: Muslera, Eboue, Semih Kaya, Chedjou, Alex Telles, Selcuk Inan, Yekta K, Melo, Sneidjer, Burak, Drogba.
Subs: Ufuk, Burdisso, Ceyhun, Hajrovic, Umut Bulut, Hakan Balta, Sabri Sarioglu.