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Morata? Giroud? Pedro is the closest thing Chelsea have to reliable goalscorer

19:27 GMT+3 01/09/2018
Pedro Chelsea 2018-19
The Blues' centre-forwards struggled against Bournemouth on Saturday but their diminutive Spanish winger came off the bench to inspire a 2-0 win

Pedro had been left out of the starting line-up for the first time this season by Maurizio Sarri but the Chelsea boss needed to call upon his most reliable goalscorer to dig out a 2-0 win over a well-drilled Bournemouth side at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The Spaniard needed only seven minutes to make his mark, linking well with Marcos Alonso and Olivier Giroud before curling home from the edge of the box – albeit with the aid of a slight deflection.

The bottom line, though, was that this was Pedro's third goal in four Premier League games this season – as many as he had racked up in his previous 23 appearances.

Not that we should have been surprised, of course. Pedro has been reinvigorated by Sarri's arrival in west London. Indeed, the former Barcelona man was also Chelsea's top scorer in pre-season.

A fringe figure last term, Pedro has emerged from a rare year in obscurity to thrive in Sarri's system, which sees Chelsea playing with a high line and much of the ball. 

His resurgence has been most welcome, as those playing ahead of him remain beset with the same issues in front of goal that proved such a constant source of frustration for Antonio Conte last season.

Against Bournemouth, Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud once again took it in turns to toil up front, but Pedro's introduction immediately sparked the game, and indeed Eden Hazard, into life.

The gifted Belgian is still compared unfavourably to the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo because of his inferior strike-rate but with his careful approach to possession, clever movement and fantastic dribbling skills, he once again demonstrated why he remains pivotal to Sarri's side.

And besides, Hazard and Messi certainly have one thing in common, in that both have seen the benefits of playing alongside Pedro. 

The Chelsea No.10, who is still working his way back to full match fitness, didn't produce his finest display on Saturday but he improved dramatically after Pedro had been sent on in place of Willian in the 64th minute, and scored a deserved goal after a clever one-two with Alonso.

The latter had looked the most likely to score before Pedro's introduction and the game underlined that the full-back will remain a pivotal player from an offensive perspective this season, despite being used in a deeper role by Sarri.

It is not only free-kicks and brave runs that make Alonso a threat, but also his ability tee up his team-mates for chances. He has 14 goals and seven assists since joining Chelsea in 2016, making him the most influential defender in the final third in the league.

He certainly carries more of an attacking threat than either Morata or Giroud at the moment.

Morata may have scored a fine goal against Arsenal a couple of weeks ago but his form immediately dipped again in his subsequent outings against Newcastle and Bournemouth.

Giroud, meanwhile, is impressive in terms of his build-up play but he is not a reliable goalscorer. Unlike Pedro right now.

The 31-year-old could have even bagged another goal but his 82nd-minute effort was dealt with by Asmir Begovic.

Still, Pedro's movement and use of the ball in tight spaces makes him difficult to pick up, while his knack of popping up with important goals at pivotal moments has played a key role in Chelsea's perfect start to the season.

Overall, this was a poor performance and served as a timely reminder as to why Sarri is reluctant to call his side title contenders.

Four wins from four games is all well and good but as well as there being outstanding issues at the back, Chelsea need to get at least one of their centre-forwards firing if they are to compete for major honours.

For now, though, Sarri will just be happy that Pedro is around to paper over the cracks.