The Blues forward has had to be patient, with chances on the pitch limited at the start of the season, but he now looks undroppable after helping his side get back into form.
Eden Hazard and Diego Costa have been hogging the headlines during Chelsea’s run of five successive Premier League wins, but Pedro has quietly played a significant role, too, and his return to the team offers hope to Cesc Fabregas.
Chelsea have recovered sensationally from their 3-0 defeat to Arsenal over a month ago when Fabregas, who has struggled to make an impression under Antonio Conte, was hauled off in the 54th minute.
Willian had also been an automatic starter under Conte, but Pedro is now lining up with Hazard and Costa after outshining the Brazilian with goals and assists in recent weeks during a run which has seen Chelsea rise to second place after 16 goals scored and none conceded
In fact, Pedro’s goal after 30 seconds against Manchester United kick-started an invincible feeling around Stamford Bridge as Chelsea banished the criticism that they couldn’t perform against the big teams after their defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal.
N’Golo Kante made it 4-0 for Chelsea against United thanks to an assist from Pedro – with Jose Mourinho finally seeing the best of the player that he convinced to join Chelsea instead of United last summer.
The Spain international has had to be patient, though, and had only one league start and 116 minutes of football before being drafted in to replace Willian against Leicester City after he had a family bereavement.
Since his chance against the champions, he has kept out Chelsea’s Player of the Season from last year and started four games in a row. He has also racked up twice as many minutes in those games as he did in the seven prior to that.
Conte has discovered some impressive partnerships on the pitch since switching to a 3-4-3 formation that has helped turn his club’s fortunes around, with Costa and Hazard playing closer together since the change.
Meanwhile, Conte has Pedro working closely with Victor Moses and Kante, with all three players covering for each other when one attacks. Pedro looked ineffective when defending with Chelsea last year, but the 3-4-3 formation has allowed him to contribute by pressing defenders tirelessly and high up the pitch as he was used to doing with Barcelona.
In perhaps Chelsea’s most impressive performance of the season against Everton on Saturday, Pedro got two assists and a goal, but also displayed that impressive energy that he showed at Barcelona and he was effective in regaining possession as he won 90.9% of his 11 duels.
Conte doesn’t like to make changes to his starting line-up when he has found the right formula and Pedro will likely find himself a regular starter for the first time in his Chelsea career. Pedro spoke glowingly about how comfortable he and his side are in the new system after the win against Everton.
“The new formation is very good for the team,” Pedro said. “It’s a great system for us. We felt very good on the pitch, we are happy with our situation and we hope to continue in the right way.
“It was our best performance, it was very good team work from everybody and that’s the most important thing. Now we must go game by game. It’s good for us, in the last five games we haven’t conceded a goal and we’ve played very well.”
Pedro found it difficult after coming from Barcelona to Chelsea as he had to adjust to playing for a team that wasn’t able to dominate in matches for the first time. That, coupled with adjusting to life in England and the Premier League, meant that last season wasn’t a success for him. Despite this, Pedro still managed to rank as the club’s second top scorer with seven goals under Mourinho and Guus Hiddink.
Under Conte, a switch to a front three suits him as he isn’t comfortable tracking full-backs for 90 minutes and being effective in the opposition half at the same time. Pedro isn’t the protagonist at Chelsea, just like he wasn’t at Barcelona, but he is supporting Costa and Hazard, who have the licence to roam from their positions under Conte.
Unlike Pedro, Fabregas still finds himself in the dark for club and country but he still has time to impress Conte to revitalise a career which has stuttered since the Italian came to west London.
Julen Lopetegui dropped Fabregas for Spain, as well as Pedro, in his international selection after Chelsea’s defeat to Arsenal with doubts over the form of the Blues’s players and with competition for places high.
Cesar Azpilicueta fought back into the selection after he was also left out but Pedro remains unlucky to miss out for the second time in a row.
However, there can be few complaints from Fabregas, who looks a long way from a return to his national team having not played since Conte’s men were humbled at the Emirates.
Pedro will return for Spain sooner or later and he provides hope for Fabregas after demonstrating that Conte will keep you in the team as long as you are immediately effective when called upon.
Fabregas must be prepared for when Conte’s call comes, as Pedro was, with the Chelsea boss running a meritocracy at Stamford Bridge where performances are more important than names.
If Fabregas isn’t ready to emulate Pedro, he could be forced to find another club away from Chelsea. But, if this scenario plays out, then the playmaker could be missing out on the future silverware that Pedro might be soon ready to celebrate with Conte and Chelsea.