Chelsea overcame their first big obstacle of the Premier League season with their win at Arsenal and it was Oscar’s showing for 73 minutes that suggests that he may prove the most important cog in their title chase.
The Blues began the season at 9/2 to be champions, but taking 16 points from a possible 18 to open a three-point advantage has seen them trimmed to 3/1.
Eden Hazard played a huge role in their fine start, helping himself to a goal and six assists in Chelsea’s first three Premier League games.
However, his impact has noticeably dropped since Oscar has broken into the first-team at Stamford Bridge.
Initially, Hazard almost had a free role behind Fernando Torres, without the ties of having to carry out any defensive duties.
The only problem was that the opposition were allowed to build from deep, which could have been especially problematic against the best opposition.
Oscar made a first real contribution with his two goals against Juventus and although these deserve credit, the fact that he was quick to close down Andrea Pirlo was just as important.
Hazard was again shunted further wide against Arsenal compared to the start of the season and although he was busy, his influence was reduced.
Meanwhile, his tendency to remain high up the pitch when Chelsea are not in possession leaves Ashley Cole without adequate cover at left-back and open to being targeted.
Oscar did well at preventing Mikel Arteta orchestrating play from deep in the same manner he did on Pirlo and this makes him a bigger asset.
Furthermore, the fact he wanders high up the pitch makes it hard for opposing defenders and midfielders to agree as to who will pick him up.
Roberto Di Matteo has the conundrum that playing both may weaken his team, especially if Juan Mata is additionally selected, leaving four players in advanced positions when not in possession.
Ryan Bertrand or even Ramires in a wider role would offer far greater defensive balance and may prove the best solution to help Chelsea become title winners.
All odds and markets correct as of publication