Chelsea vs. Man United is fascinating because of Mourinho

 

jose-mourinho-manchester-united_uwfhfs8ahy3u1lwegk9f3j91aNon-league quarterfinal between Sutton United and Lincoln City has caught some imagination but the most tempting tie in the last eight of the FA Cup is definitely between Chelsea and Man United. The tie is overflowing with intrigue as it is the Blue vs. Red, Conte vs. Mourinho and Costa vs. Ibrahimovic.

The clubs have been competing against each other since centuries and most of the memories are not in favour of Chelsea supporters. In 1994, the Blues faced a damp and Glenn Hoddle’s team fell 4-0 to Manchester United in the Wembley rain. After two years, Ruud Gullit nodded Chelsea to the lead in the semi finals but Andy Cole’s equaliser and David Beckham’s winning goal turned the table for the Blues.

In the year 1998, Chelsea were the Cup holders and Man United were the reigning Champions when they met at Stamford Bridge for their third round. United took a lead of 5-0 until stupendous chip by Graeme Le Saux over Peter. The matched ended with a score of 5-3 announcing a victory for the visitors.

After the replay in 1999, Man United were victorious again. Chelsea had to wait for eight long years to take revenge in the FA Cup. In 2013 they contested for the quarter final and attained a comeback with the score 2-0 after an amazing shot from Eden Hazard at Old Trafford.

Apart from the huge stature and ambition of the two clubs, another fascinating element in the next instalment of the FA Cup rivalry is because of Jose Mourinho. His association with the Londoners indicate that any reunion will be heavily scrutinised. His actions and words in the recent past have shown that the build up is going to get more intense.

Mourinho has been mocking Chelsea’s overly defensive way of playing and he also quoted that ‘they score one goal and they win’. He recently commented that counter-attacking football has now become a form of art and not a way to win points. He believes that his work at Chelsea was not well appreciated by those of outside Stamford Bridge but his attitude towards Conte’s squad is hypothetical and incorrect.

Mourinho should feel proud about his achievements in Chelsea as his winning mentality was the reason for the club to turn into champions. He also laid the foundation for Chelsea’s Champions League triumph in 2012.

Chelsea has bagged more goals than Mourinho’s squad this campaign. This indicates that his thoughts about his former team’s performance is unjustifiable and shows the negativity surrounding Manchester United. This sort of attitude was not on show during Chelsea’s 4-0 rout of Man United in October.

The fans of Blues still hold a special place for Mourinho as they believe that he had a huge contribution in the team’s success and at times they defend his most nonsensical actions. May be he is just upset about the fact that Conte is receiving the same reverence that was once meant for him.

Mourinho had a warm welcome at Stamford Bridge during his visit in October. The FA quarter final in March will decide if the situation remains the same or the heat will become more uncomfortable for the visiting manager.

Diego Costa goal dearth is a concern for Chelsea and Conte

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Chelsea came away from Burnley with a single point after a patchy game and it wasn’t the worst possibility that could have happened to them on Sunday.

Antonio Conte’s team is still on a lead in the Premier League table but they have passed the opportunity to increase the gap to 12 points. Conte’s side was unable to build on the advantage after Pedro’s well executed goal and he saw his team fail in that moment. The visitors created little chances to re create the initiative after the equaliser from Burnley.

Costa’s goals helped Chelsea to power up to the top of the Premier League table but now they have dried up. It was the third successive blank in the league and fourth in all the competitions. He managed two shots in a match and both of them were easily blocked. The insufficient number of goals from Costa has become a matter of concern for Antonio Conte. His lack of trust in Mitchy Batshuayi is adding to the concern and he doesn’t seem to have a gripping plan B.

Chelsea faced obstinate opponents but the performance of wing-backs Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses were less effective compared to their previous matches. The Blues striker linked up well with Pedro and Eden Hazard in order to compensate but he still couldn’t generate the type of chances as he did in the previous season.

There was a switch to 4-2-2 after Conte substituted Nemanja Matic in the 67th minute and Moses in the 72nd minute. The replacements were Cesc Fabregas and Willian. It was an admirable decision made by him which would have been fruitful for the team if only he had made the changes earlier in the game.

Half-time would have been productive for Conte’s team and they might have caught Burnley out before they had time to adjust. But Michael Keane and his fellow defenders were not in a mood to concede an inch to Costa and the team.

Batshuayi replaced Pedro in the 87th minute but it was a late introduction. The Brazil-born Spain international hasn’t scored since 329 minutes and the doubt persists that what will happen to Chelsea’s advantage over their rivals if the drought of goals continue.

If Costa gets back to his form then there is nothing to be worried about but Tianjin Quanjin’s move has led to a damaging psychological effect on the team members. There was also a disagreement with the fitness coach Julio Tous which resulted in exclusion for the team for the League game with Leicester City.

The next opponents for Chelsea are Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers. Conte should consider playing Costa from the beginning or give him 30 minutes off the bench. If Costa is given an opportunity he might rediscover himself in the home league game.

The good thing for the Chelsea manager is that Pedro is finding the net regularly and Hazard is back to his best. The Blues have goals elsewhere in them and there is nothing much to worry for the team if the drought of goals are taken care of.

 

Revived Hazard has impressed but has more levels to reach

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Eden hazard is definitely having an excellent season. During Chelsea’s 2014-15 title winning campaign Hazard created fear into Premier League defences.  He disappeared in the last season but returned with his playful style across England. He bagged nine goals in 21 Premier League matches and out of which four were from the whole of last season. The statistics show the Belgian’s transformation.

The slender tally of three assists officially attributed him by the Premier League which was pretty surprising. But he has had an enormous impact on the Chelsea team given his involvement in almost every attacking move. His influence cannot be measured by conventional metrics. His tricks for Chelsea to win a game consist of his movement off the ball, little flicks around the corner, one-twos with team members in tough situations and his ability to command the attention of many opponents to free up space for others. These tricks cannot be put on a stat sheet but they are as important as they are unplayable.

But the feeling that there is a lot more to come from Hazard still remains. In his player of the year campaign in 2014-15, he virtually dominated all the 38 games that he had started.  He was the crucial component of Chelsea when the team was feasting on their opponents before Christmas. Hazard was also the driving force behind the team’s grind to the title in the New Year.

Although in the final few months at the club, Hazard had eventually fallen out with Jose Mourinho. Mourinho relied upon him more than any other player due to his knack for turning games in Chelsea’s favour.

Hazard has showed some mesmerising performance this season. He helped Antonio Conte with some dizzying attacking play that many of the teams found difficult to live with. But in few games he fell short of the standards he created for himself. But even the greatest football players have seen their off days.

Hazard has not been very effective in the meantime. In the 3-0 win at Leicester he played as a false nine and played an integral role in dismantling the defence of the reigning Premier League Champions. But it all got lost between the less impactful displays at Tottenham in the 2-0 loss and last Saturday’s 2-0 win where there was a lot of jinking and darting runs from him but very little end product.

Hazard will not be staying out of the limelight for too long. The 26 year old has rarely been out of his form in the present times. In the course of his five seasons in the club he had his points of lull but they were all considered as the calm before the storm. He suffered a slight dip at the beginning with no sores at all but then he came back with five nets in his next four games. The next two League fixtures of Chelsea are potentially crucial contests against Arsenal and Liverpool. This is the perfect time for Hazard to show his potentials and get back with his goal scoring groove.

 

5 Teams that excelled Premiere League in 2016

With the 25th edition of the Premier League reaching its half way mark, perhaps it is time to take a look at the top five teams that have excelled in this tournament so far. The below list is based on performances so far and there is every chance that a sixth team may end up winning the title. But then, that is the beauty of football, isn’t it?

With Chelsea leading the table with 46 points in 18 matches, closely followed by Manchester City in the same number of matches, football pundits are having a tough time predicting the best team of the tournament. Fans are also finding it difficult to digest the fact the reigning champions, Leicester City is currently in 16th position, their chances of holding on to the title all but nil.

Here is our list of five teams who stand a solid chance of winning this year’s title

Chelsea

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 29:  The Chelsea badge is seen on the corner flag ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on January 29, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The infusion of a new manager in Conte seems to have done the trick for the team, who has brought about some much needed stability which was lacking under the Italian coach Antonio. Having scored 38 goals and conceding only 11, they are easily one of the top favorites in this season. The return to form of Diego Costa have augured well for the Blues’, so has the brilliant coordination displayed by the midfield as well as the defenders. Michy Batshuayi, Gary Cahil, and John Terry all have been in excellent form. The midfield trio of Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, and Oscar have been able to set the tone of the matches and aided some excellent maneuvers through the wings.

Manchester City

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Perhaps the biggest positive for Manchester City has been the introduction of the new coach Pep Guardiola whose innovative formations and tactics have done them a whole lot of good.  One of the leading goal scoring teams of the EPL so far, Manchester City has been robust in their defense as well. When it comes to goal scoring, Sergio Aguero has been the go-to man for Guardiola, who has found the nets with alarming frequency. The midfield manned by Raheem Sterling Nolito has equally been up to the task, creating goal opportunities and controlling the pace of the game. Those who are familiar with Pep’s ball possession tactic during his stint with Barcelona are amazed how easily he has been able to infuse it into the EPL as well.

Liverpool

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Leading the number of goals scored with 41 goals against 20 conceded, Liverpool stands a good chance as any to lift the coveted title this year. Jurgen Klopp has been a master visionary, conjuring tactics and formations that has unsettled the calculations of many of his opposite numbers. Liverpool has been able to rise above superstar performances and started delivering as a team which is obvious from their points table. Having lost only 2 matches so far, Klopp’s men are one of the strongest contenders this year.

Arsenal

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The runner’s up of the last season, Arsenal would love to finish top of the table this time around. Arsenal’s bane has always been the finishing touch, however, with 39 goals scored in 18 matches, they have one of the strongest fire power this season, which places them in a strong position to win this year’s title.

Manchester United

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The Red Devils have been a different team altogether under the new coach Jose Mourinho and is currently placed sixth in the list. Pogba has been finding his feet consistently and that is certainly good news for them. However, with the final half of the tournament coming up, they would want more worthy contributions from their midfield if they are to proceed further in the tournament.

Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Southampton are also in the race and it is simply too early to write any one off. There is only thing that we can say with conviction at this point of time and that is we are headed for a brilliant finish to this year’s tournament!

Jose Mourinho humiliated after Chelsea whip Manchester United

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There was only a section of the audience filled with Chelsea supporters but they were loud enough to be heard and Mourinho was standing 15 yards ahead of the crowd. He must have heard them roaring “You are not Special!”  “You are not special anymore!”

Midway through the first half, Manchester United were already down two goals. If in that moment Mourinho was feeling low about their performance then he would have felt even more humiliated if he was aware about what was going to happen next.

The pitch was not calm either and the place where he had built plenty of successful memories, the new team of Mourinho was evicting him from the old ones. Chelsea seemed very composed, organised and quick during the match while Manchester United failed to proclaim any of it.

Sunday’s match has given more evidence to the critics who believed that Mourinho could no longer be on the top. But it will be too early to draw any conclusion as he has been associated with United since last three months whereas the club has been disappointing its supporters for three and a half years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.

Mourinho definitely has plenty of reasons to be concerned about his new team even though it has been only three months. The team has followed his instructions exactly in order to cancel out Liverpool in the last match but failed to do the same against Chelsea.

After the first goal, he admitted that they have committed an incredible defensive mistake.in the half time of the game Mourinho suggested the players to grab the game from their opponents at a situation they are most comfortable in but instead they provided a game that their opponents were in need of. While United could have scored 2-1, the score changed to 3-0 and where it could have been 3-1 it became 4-0. It is necessary to analyse the performance while considering the defensive mistakes as there were plenty of them.

United showed a very poor performance throughout. Mourinho is known for his technical excellence, organisation and an overarching plan but none of these were evident during the Sunday’s match.

Mourinho made a few changes after the half time by hauling off Fellaini for Juan Mata and switching to a 4-4-2 with Rashford joining Ibrahimovic up front. This was followed by an unwanted change after Eric Bailly was injured after which United looked vulnerable in defence too.

During the celebration of Chelsea, Mourinho congratulated them but he asked his players to not lose the focus as it was not the end for them.  It was definitely a bad day for Mourinho as his team was thrashed by his old team and also the taunting that followed afterwards.

Time has changed and along with it the passion that he had once which made everyone believe that he could get away with anything. The heavy defeat and Bailly’s injury along with tantrums from his fans and supporters definitely mark the day as one of the unhappy homecomings for Mourinho.