Carlo Ancelotti hailed fit-again midfielder Michael Essien after the Ghanaian inspired Chelsea to a 3-1 victory over rock-bottom West Ham with a headed double.
Essien's goals were his first since for the club since he tore the medial ligament in his left knee while training with Ghana before the African Nations Cup in January.
"I think he's better than a new signing," said Ancelotti.
"We missed him last season because he's one of the top midfielders in the world. He came back and we're happy he can maintain this level of play.
"He's fit now. We have to pay attention because he's playing well, all the games at the start of the season. He scored here, and that's fantastic. He's a fantastic jumper and I hope he maintains this position for as long as possible."
Captain John Terry, who only recently recovered from a hamstring injury, was forced off in the second half with a rib injury but Ancelotti is confident he will be fit for the Champions League clash against MSK Zilina next week.
"John took a knock on his ribs. We'll have a look Sunday and I hope he will be fit for Wednesday. Sunday it will be more clear.
"I don't think it's broken. He took a knock in the first half and played again for 60 minutes. But before the end of the game, he came off.
"Our start means nothing. We have started better than Manchester United, but it will be a long race. I said last year that the race is only decided at the end of the season. I will say the same this year.
"There are moments during the season where you are not lucky. United conceded two goals in the last few minutes against Everton. It can happen to us the same."
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