Even with the absence of Diego Costa in recent weeks due to his persistent hamstring injury, Chelsea's excellent run of form continued. They won three and drew one during Costa's four game absence yet didn't played with quite the same dynamism in the attacking third.
Today we saw just how much Costa adds to the Chelsea attack. He works tirelessly on the defensive side to close opposition defenders and not allow them to play out from the back, his strength and hold up play are excellent, he works the channels in the space in behind the opposition fullbacks, his diagonal runs give Chelsea a threat in behind the defense and he has the quality in front of foal to finish off a move.
Within the opening minute Costa chased a lost cause into the corner flag to win a corner off of Richard Dunne. Later he made an intelligent diagonal run in behind QPR's high line only for Nemanja Matic to take an extra touch causing Costa to be offside.
He's formed a fine understanding with fellow new signing Cesc Fabregas. Fabregas has the quality to pick out Costa's runs behind the opposition back four with well weighted balls over the top, as evidenced by Costa's goal in the Arsenal fixture from a Fabregas long ball. Oscar's opener today was a world class piece of individual skill but he was able to get into the space to take on the shot due to some fantastic movement and combination play from Fabregas and Costa that pulled QPR's back four out of position.
The screen shots below show the build up to Oscar's goal. In the first, Fabregas has just received a pass from Matic in midfield. Costa drops into the space behind QPR's holding midfielders Sandro and Karl Henry which forces center back Steven Caulker to step out from the back four and opens up the space between Richard Dunne and left back Yun Suk-Young. Costa holds up play well after receiving the pass from Fabrgas.
Fabregas has the awareness to try to get into the space Caulker has vacated. He receives a short pass from Costa and gets in behind Caulker. This forces Yun to tuck inside to close down Fabregas. Oscar is able to take advantage of the space that opens up on the outside of Yun. He still has plenty to do and the finish is sublime but the space he finds himself in is a product of Chelsea's intelligent movement of which Costa plays a key role.
Chelsea were ultimately made to work hard for the three points after Charlie Austin's clever flicked equalizer. Hazard provided the winner from the penalty spot having earned the penalty, just as he did against Arsenal. If there's been a concern for Chelsea this season it's been a tendency at times to not kill off games that they're seemingly in control of. They lost points late to Manchester United and ten men Manchester City but also made harder work of it than they needed to today as well as in the 2-1 win over Crystal Palace when a late Fraizer Campbell goal made for a nervy finish. Mourinho voiced his displeasure at Chelsea's performance in the post match interview and he'll look for his side to finish off weaker opposition early. Still, these were the type of fixtures the Blues dropped points in last season and they can take some satisfaction in having found a winner against a well organized QPR side.