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“He wasn’t quite Maradona but he was close” mused Jose Mourinho following Pedro’s outstanding Chelsea debut.

Mourinho was right, he wasn’t quite Maradona, but his performance still offered an insight into just how influential a player he could turn out to be for the Blues.

Pedro's Barca upbringing sees him thrive in superb Chelsea debutIn customary fashion, Pedro’s work exuded intensity, energy and purpose. He buzzed around the pitch, always looking to provide his side with an option, plus his dynamic surges on the counter gave West Bromwich Albion fits throughout. A goal and an assist were apt rewards for his fine body of work on a day where so much of what he learnt from his 11 years at Barcelona allowed him to thrive.

Pedro’s movement was masterful. He utilised little pockets of space all over the front third expertly. His unbelievable footballing intelligence came to the fore in situations where Chelsea forward Diego Costa would drop deep. As soon as Pedro recognised this happening, he would sneak into the space Costa left behind and briefly take up the striking position. Chris Brunt, West Brom’s left back, often opted not to follow Pedro inside, which meant the 27-year-old regularly had large amounts of freedom to roam about unimpeded.

Whether exploiting space in between in the lines, subtly switching flanks or dropping deep to combine with old mate Cesc Fabregas, Pedro’s positional variations provided constant headaches for West Brom. And ones they ultimately couldn’t overcome. The technically gifted Spanish international used his superlative dribbling and passing ability to great effect too, which are things he obviously owes to his Spanish upbringing. His goal on 20 minutes provided a delightful amalgamation of the above, in a move that was intriguingly instigated by positioning himself cleverly.

Here, after picking up possession near half way, Pedro lifted his head and probed forward. Upon assessing his options, he then proceeded to find his old Barcelona teammate, Cesc Fabregas, who played a nifty one-two with his fellow countryman. Pedro, now 40 yards from goal, continued forward, before noticing Eden Hazard had slipped in between West Brom’s midfield and defensive lines. Pedro duly found the Belgian and charged forward after playing the pass. Hazard turned, took two touches, and with his third spotted a marauding Pedro in an ideal position to receive. Hazard softly slid a ball into Pedro’s path and the £21 million signing did the rest, finishing beautifully past a hapless Boaz Myhill from just inside the box.

By tracking back and contributing on the defensive end, Pedro further displayed his worth to the team. And this would’ve pleased his Portuguese manager to no end, for Mourinho loves his attackers putting in on both sides of the ball.

You know with Pedro that he’s an exemplary team player who’ll give his all for the benefit of the side, and he most definitely showed that against West Brom. Although this was only his first game, the were so many encouraging positives to be drawn from his performance.

“I expected him to perform like that because he had a good pre-season, and he played three competitive matches. He came with minutes, with intensity, so it was not a question of intensity and condition, it was a question of understanding” said Mourinho. “We worked tactically every day since he arrived for him to try to understand the team and for the team to try to understand what he wants and needs. It was a very good performance.”

By the numbers, his two tackles, two interceptions, three key passes, three shots, one successful dribble and the fact he was fouled on three occasions accurately depicted what a well rounded showing he put in and how damaging a proposition he made himself to Tony Pulis’ Baggies.

While question marks remain about Chelsea defensively, they look to be on a real winner by signing Pedro. Chelsea already have two stars in attack, with Diego Costa and Eden Hazard, but now with Pedro, Mourinho will be hoping his new acquisition might be the perfect fit in Chelsea’s attacking jigsaw.

Obtaining an experienced World Cup winner like Pedro is undoubtedly a great piece of business. Furthermore, he’s a man with a great attitude and appetite for work, who also knows what it’s like to win. If everything goes to plan Pedro should turn out to be one of the signings of the season.

He’s no Maradona, but he’s still bloody good.

Originally published at licencetoroam.net

Post written by Edward Stratmann
for Licence to Roam, Blog: licencetoroam.net, Twitter: @licencetoroam

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