After only one point from their first two games, Chelsea needed to get their act together in their third game. To bolster their squad, the Blues bought Pedro Rodriguez from Barcelona. They wrapped the deal up quickly by immediately agreeing to mach Barcelona’s asking price of £21m and just like that Jose Mourinho had a new player at his disposal.
While much was made of the fact that Chelsea stole him from under the nose of Manchester United, not too much was made of the quality of the player. After his fantastic debut against West Brom, now all the talk about Pedro is about his quality as a footballer.
Pedro obviously got his goal, but he did so much more than just that. He completed 88% of his passes overall and 80% of his passes in the final third. He created three chances and, while he did not get credited with an assist, played the ball across for the team’s second goal. Defensively, he made four ball recoveries, won both of his attempted tackles, and made an interception.
Some have said that the signing of the ex Barca man is a panic buy, but, panic buy or not, he does give the Blues a new element to their attack. Last season, Jose Mourinho mainly played Eden Hazard and Willian as the wingers in his team. Both Hazard and Willian like to cut inside a lot, where Pedro gives the team a bit more width in attack.
If you compare the average position of Pedro vs West Brom and Willian vs Swansea, you see that the Spaniard tends to stay wide and provide more width. With Pedro keeping the width, that means there is less need for Ivanovic to bombard up and down the wing. Along with that, like Willian, Pedro is willing to track back and cover his full-back, so those factors should help the struggling Ivanovic defend against wide players.
Pedro may have scored the first goal, but the second goal was arguably more important and was a better representation of what he brings to Chelsea. Azpilicueta initially plays a long ball out to Willian to start the break. When the pass is played, the ex Barcelona man is nearly at the intersection of the halfway line and the touch line. Since he is near the touch line when the ball is played, he makes a run inside. But, while he is making a run inside, he makes sure to keep some width and stays in line with the edge of the penalty box. The left-back, Chris Brunt, then tucks inside to track the run of Eden Hazard, leaving Pedro unmarked. When the Spaniard receives the ball, there is no one within about a five yard radius of him, but he still has to pick out the correct ball. He played a cross shot into the danger area and, while he was not credited with an assist, set up Diego Costa for the second goal.
Many people have been talking about this transfer for the fact that Chelsea stole a transfer target from Manchester United. Pedro showed with his debut that they should be talking about what kind of player Chelsea have added to their squad. He showed what he can do, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he just keeps on doing it for Jose Mourinho’s side.