The plan was perfect and its execution flawless. Jose Mourinho’s genius in terms of strategy and tactics, the squad’s desire to win and the team mentality required during an important match was evident from the way the Chelsea squad went about their business against Manchester City. Chelsea were at the Etihad to win and win they did by almost shutting out the Citizens, choking their free flowing game which has tormented every other Premier League side this season. Where most teams were thrashed, Chelsea managed to hold the home team at bay, the win margin hardly matters.
Jose Mourinho will find some solace from the win against City but after being finally level on points with them in the league table. The Blues now trail the blue half of Manchester only on goal difference and the ‘Special One’ is very well aware of the fact that from now on every match, every single point would matter in deciding the league champions. Any slip ups and they will have to depend on results from other matches and Mourinho surely doesn’t want to leave anything to chance. This result obviously brings about a significant change in the race for the title, once again clearly showing why most betters still consider Chelsea to be a strong contender for the title this season. Chelsea, if they want, can definitely steal away the cup from both Arsenal and City.
Both Arsenal and City will be under high pressure to push themselves to the limit. But the way Chelsea took care of business at Etihad, it will be highly doubtful that Mourinho will let his boys drop their form and allow some breathing space to the two clubs above them.
One of the key aspects that perhaps would work in favor of Chelsea, especially in the final quarter of the season when the squad begins to fatigue and wear out, is their excellent cover and depth in almost every department of the field. A display of the depth in their bench was evident when Ramires was chosen to play instead of Oscar. Even Samuel E’to, who was believed by many to have lost his flair, has performed tremendously well under Mourinho at Chelsea this season.
When Mourinho signed Salah, he rolled the dice to not only strengthen his bench but also to prevent Liverpool from strengthening their ranks.It is yet to be seen if Salah can be as effective as Mata.
But many feel selling Mata to Manchester United was a wrong move. But still few believe it was a very tactical ploy from Mourinho to strengthen a side who are not in direct competition with them for the title this season. Manchester United have played out both their league games against Chelsea this season and Mata’s inclusion in their ranks would have no bearing on Chelsea but might as well help their cause by helping United steal points off their direct title competitors.
Defeating the Citizens at their home ground is no easy task. Hence Chelsea now have the confidence they needed to perform for the rest of the season. The only other thing they require is momentum and become alive in the attacking third. Fernando Torres and E’to together can be a venomous pairing just like Suarez and Sturridge has been for Liverpool.
But as far as the game of football goes, even the best of teams sometimes lose or are held to a draw. Hence Chelsea would be looking to extract full points at least from every home match where they have always been a major force under Mourinho. Chelsea host Everton on 22nd February, Spurs on 8th March and Arsenal on 22nd March at home. These home games could well turn out to be the deciders for Chelsea in the context of the season. Considering the men in Blue put up a performance as they did against City a win in all the three matches is a surety. Chelsea also face Liverpool away at Anfield on April 26th at the very end of the season that will be a crucial tie as well. But as the current season progresses games are bound to get tougher.
Mourinho’s campaign in Europe will throw plenty of hardships for the team. Performing at the highest level in all games require players to have insane levels of fitness and physical endurance that players are often unable to maintain and fall prey to injuries. When key players are out of crucial games, as could be seen in case of Manchester City, the team underachieves.
With Chelsea defeating Manchester City, the race for the title becomes tighter with Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea leading and trailing each other by very thin margins.
Chelsea should go all in to grasp the opportunity. The only team to maintain their consistency will be successful.