With Diego Costa unavailable, many Chelsea fans thought that today would be the day that they'd finally see Alexandre Pato in the starting lineup. Interim manager Guus Hiddink decided to go with Loic Remy instead, and when he pulled Remy off late in the match, replaced him with Bertrand Traore instead of Pato. The Dutchman was asked about that decision after the match came to a close, and had the following to say:
"You have to make a choice who to bring on. We have now several strikers. When Costa is not there, then we have Remy. We also have Traore and Pato. They are competing for the second position spot. I make my fair judgement on what we see during training as well, and then I take my decision."
Fair enough. Remy has certainly earned the right over the past season and a half to be selected when Costa is out, as he's generally come through with goals. Though raw, Traore has shown a knack for putting the ball in the net as well, even if he looks a little uncomfortable leading the line at the moment. Both of those decisions are understandable, on their own.
Why did Guus decide to bring in Ruben Loftus-Cheek instead of Pato for his last substitution, with Chelsea down a goal late in the match?
"Ruben is strong and he can penetrate. He can also play physically well and technically well, which he proved in this action [for the penalty]."
RLC did very well in his short cameo, and without him and that run, we probably don't salvage a point out of this one. It's hard to find too much fault in the decision to leave Pato on the bench yet again when one of his substitutes changes the match, hindsight being 20/20 and all.
Regardless, at this point, Guus is clearly not impressed with what he's seeing from Pato in training, and seems to be the first manager we've had in quite a while that's willing to play an unproven youngster over a big name in poor (or no) form. I'm fine with that, and I'd imagine Chelsea's academy players are excited to finally see someone willing to take a chance on them as well.