Mourinho Masterclass Ends City’s Manchester Dominance

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A few weeks ago I wrote about Jose Mourinho and his return to Chelsea. I summed that piece up by saying he needs to find his Mojo back and quickly. For most of this season he has been a bit bored and unenthusiastic.

Well that all changed last night when he took his side to the Etihad and secured the first three points from a visiting league side this season.

I mentioned previously that Mourinho needs a competitor to rail against. At Chelsea before it was Rafa Benitez at Liverpool and at Real it was Pep Guardiola and his Barcelona team.

During this stint back in London he has struggled to get that same friction. But he now seems intent that his target will be Manchester City.

He has made a few digs at City this term about them being lucky, odds on favourites for title success and having billions to spend. Now Manuel Pellegrini hasn’t risen to the bait but Jose isn’t attacking the City boss but the whole club. He has been subtle and down right clear in his motives.

That needle Mourinho placed on this fixture is just what he and his collective squad thrive against. So he has built all this tension up slowly over the past month or so. Mentioning City more and more, putting all the pressure on them.

The Portuguese manager was just setting the scene.

The hour build up to the game on SKY was full of ‘showdown’ talk. The phrase ‘parking the bus’ must have been trending in the studio as it got repeated time and time again. Be in no doubt everyone and their gran were expecting Chelsea to come out with a solid and defensive approach. Similar to the way Mourinho’s Inter lined up against Barca.

The team line-ups didn’t seem to counter that argument with poster-boy Oscar dropped to the bench with new boy (old boy) Nemanja Matic occupying a place in a three man midfield alongside Brazilians Ramires and David Luiz.

But right from the start you could see Chelsea weren’t there to sit back and take all that Man City could throw at them.

That midfield was always working to win the ball at the earliest opportunities. Matic was man of the match and his constant hassling and tackling nullified the threats of David Silva and Yaya Toure. His passing was on song and his strength was phenomenal at times.

David Luiz would lie deep beside the Serbian and again proved why he might just be a better holding player than a centre back. His tackling seems to be a lot more assured in this position and his passing play and vision is fantastic.

With Luiz and Matic capable of patrolling the backline, this meant Branislav Ivanovic could attack from right back and keep Aleksandar Kolarov on his toes. It was the roaming right back that would score the vital goal.

Up top, Jose went with Eden Hazard and Willian on the wings with Samuel Eto’o through the middle.

The creative wide-men worked hard all night for their sides cause. They chased every ball and their slick, clever passing kept caused Man City’s defenders problems all night.

At corners Chelsea’s three frontmen would often sit up near the halfway line. This would mean at least three City stars would have to sit back too. Allowing less congestion in the Chelsea penalty area. Hazard would then drop deep and twice helped out his defence by winning the second ball outside the area and keeping possession, thus meaning City couldn’t get a shot or second cross in. It was very smart and worked a treat.

At the back Cesar Azpilicueta was solid again on the left. He seemed to enjoy his tussles with fellow Spaniard Jesus Navas, often showing him down the outside and giving him very little room.

Gary Cahill and John Terry were heroic in the centre of defence.

Since Jose returned to the Bridge, Terry has been in inspired form once again. Say what you like about the man, but the player is great at throwing himself in front of every ball and challenge that goes into his box.

Cahill was equally as good and won most of his aerial battles. Possibly his best game in a Chelsea strip.

The duo were probably helped out by the absence of Sergio Aguero. His pace could have caused more problems. But Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko were too similar and didn’t win enough challenges in the opposition box.

In the middle of the park Man City also missed Fernandinho. Ageing Argentine Martin Demichelis didn’t have the legs to stop Chelsea attacking at those behind him. Surely James Milner was a better option.

Yaya Toure was run ragged. He was running on empty with 20 minutes to go and his play became very lazy and ineffective. Too many passes went astray and his shots were weak.

Unlike ┬áHazard and Willian, Silva and Navas didn’t do enough, either creatively or working back!

In Defence Matija Nastasic was again vulnerable and not strong enough. His challenge at the end on Oscar was a yellow card in my book but the player was clearly tired.

Obviously City weren’t at their strongest but be in no doubt Jose Mourinho and his side pulled off a tactical masterpiece and deserved all three points.

The build up to the game and the result may just have heralded the real return of the ‘Special One’.

 

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