Premier League Weekend Review: Pedro might prove worth waiting for

Pedro is finding his feet in the Premier League after a slow start to his Chelsea career
Pedro is finding his feet in the Premier League after a slow start to his Chelsea career

Chelsea warmed up for tomorrow's Champions League trip to Paris with an impressive five-goal rout of Newcastle. Ralph Ellis says to get on their revival to keep rolling...


"Chelsea are now 4.1 to achieve a top six finish, and there are signs they are on the march. Seven points behind sixth placed Southampton, they could cut that to just four when they go to St Mary’s in their next game."

We may never know - or at least not until somebody involved brings out their book - whether Manchester United really wanted to sign Pedro from Barcelona last summer.

It was in June that Ed Woodward got chatting to a stranger on a plane about why he was heading to Spain, and the guy promptly rang his United mad brother to pass on the gossip that the Old Trafford chief exec was attempting to tie up a deal for the Spanish winger.

Within hours the brother had rung the Manchester Evening News, and the story was out. A £22m deal was close to being done. But then Jose Mourinho suddenly stepped in, Pedro headed off to Chelsea instead, and United briefed that they had never wanted him anyway, it was all a misunderstanding. They were actually opening talks to see if they could get Neymar.

Believe what you will, but until now it rather looked as if Woodward had come up trumps by NOT concluding the deal. Having spent £250m on an assortment of stellar names who then failed to settle under Louis van Gaal's regime, why would they have wanted one expensive flop?

With 55 caps as part of the Spanish side that won the World Cup in 2010 and followed it up with the European Championship two years later, there's never been a doubt about the 29-year-old's ability.

But in the early part of the season when Chelsea were struggling, and Mourinho was at war with the world, he was a forlorn figure. The signs looked good when he marked his debut at West Brom with a goal, but since then he's been in and mostly out of the side, struggling to handle the pace of the Premier League.

Of course two goals on Saturday against a wretched Newcastle side is not yet proof of a transformation. But if you wanted another example of how Guus Hiddink knows how to help top players reach their full potential, then there it was.

Chelsea are now 4.1 to achieve a top six finish, and there are signs they are on the march. Seven points behind sixth placed Southampton, they could cut that to just four when they go to St Mary's in their next game.

Meanwhile the unbeaten record since the genial Dutchman replaced Mourinho now stretches to 12 games, and they will travel to Paris for tomorrow night's Champions League tie with PSG full of confidence. The home side are 1.748/11 to win, and that has to be a bet to lay.

Pedro's industry and ability to win the ball back will be crucial to helping protect Chelsea's defence, but it is their rediscovered potential to get an away goal which could prove so valuable in Europe. Not only is Diego Costa restored to something like his best, but Cesc Fabregas has also got back in tune.

Barcelona accused him of being a half-a-season player when they let him move back to England - a public slur that he couldn't maintain his standards beyond January. Well this term he might be guilty of only doing half the campaign again, except he's been hopeless in the first bit and is on song now. His pass for one of Pedro's goals against Newcastle was among 88 that found their target out of 95 attempts.

It's all signs of a big club back on track, and top players beginning to perform again. We'll never know whether Pedro was nearly somewhere else - but the big thing for Chelsea is that he now looks happy to be where he is.


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