“Chelsea are very good defensive team,”
“They defend very well and with lots of players and I think in this situation a very defensive team wins the title with counterattack goals and set pieces goals so I don’t think they will let it slip but football is football.”
This was an assessment from current Manchester United and former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho. I actually think it’s a pretty fair assessment, although it doesn’t fully explain the situation at Chelsea this season.
Now I can see why it would initially upset Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, he’ll obviously view it as Jose playing some mind-games and in that regard he’s probably right as Mourinho always has more than one reason to state such soundbites.
But if you look past all the shenanigans, you could say that Jose knows more than most about winning titles no matter what. Surely the only thing that actually matters is winning the Premier League title and Chelsea have put themselves firmly in the driving seat in this campaign.
Chelsea and Conte struggled in the early periods of the season, as the coach tried different systems and personnel. Nothing seemed to really click and after they were humbled 3-0 at the Emirates in late September many thought Conte was fighting a losing battle.
The defence in particular weren’t up to the job and something needed to change.
So Antonio decided to revert to a three man defence, a system that gave him positive results in the past at both Juventus and with the Italian national side. The change in formation worked fantastically well and it was an instant hit.
After that loss to Arsenal, Chelsea would go on and win their next thirteen league games. In that run they defeated fellow challengers Tottenham and Manchester City. They also thumped Mourinho’s United team 4-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Also within that run, Chelsea’s new look defence managed to keep ten clean-sheets. Now I’m sorry but if winning thirteen games in a row and keeping ten clean-sheets in the process makes you a defensive outfit then I am all for defensive football!
Now both Man United and Chelsea have each played twenty-five Premier League matches so far this term. Chelsea have won six games more than United. No team in the league has conceded fewer than the Blues eighteen tally, interestingly Man Utd have only conceded three more!
In the goals for column, only Arsenal and Liverpool (54 goals) have scored more than Chelsea (52). While Jose’s Man Utd team have only notched up thirty-eight goals.
In terms of forward play, Diego Costa has been extremely impressive with his all-round game as well as his fifteen league strikes. Eden Hazard is once again one of the Premier League’s best creative forces. Conte has also managed to get more from Pedro, a player who seemed to struggle under Mourinho last term.
Yes David Luiz has looked good, I’ve already stated this year that Cesar Azpilicueta has been one of the players of the season and I think we can all agree that N’Golo Kante is a defensive phenomenon!
But that doesn’t mean that the Blues attack haven’t played their part this season and it certainly shouldn’t be viewed as a negative thing.
It’s funny how some in football have a snobbery when it comes to so-called ‘defensive tactics’. There’s an art to defending and it can be majestic to see a wonderfully crafted counter-attack goal.
I’ll leave you with this bombshell… Jose Mourinho would love to see his team play like Chelsea and be in the same position as them in the league. It will also annoy the hell out of him that Antonio Conte has got so much out of the same players that failed Jose last season.
I look at Mourinho’s words and I see a bit of honesty, a grudging respect and also a hint of jealousy in there too. Importantly I don’t see it derailing this Chelsea side in the slightest!
Posted on February 13th, 2017 by scott
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