Jose Mourinho rued the lack of noise at Stamford Bridge in the last League outing against local rivals Queens Park Rangers. Chelsea did win it by a goal and they remain top of the table. He has a 6 point lead over the closest real rival. Southampton sit 4 points below Chelsea at second position. They have done an admirable job, yet that place is perhaps out of bounds for them, come May.
As a team, Chelsea have been different this season. In fact, they are the most strange Mourinho team in years. People may point at the leaky defense, yet Chelsea remain firm favourites for the title. Mourinho doesn’t let a lead slip that often. No matter how his team plays.
What does a Mourinho team stand for? Killer instinct, consistency, a rock solid defense, a deadly counter-attack and results. Most of these have been consistently present in his teams from Porto, Chelsea in his first spell, the treble winning Inter to the record setting Real Madrid team that broke the Barca domination. How does this new Chelsea team stand in front of the old one, or any other Mourinho team to date for that matter?
To say this team is different is a gross understatement. To say that his team, style and philosophy has reached a new level would perhaps be the better way of putting things in perspective. It is at this point, that people will remind of the two late goals against the two Manchester teams bar which Chelsea have had a 100% run so far. Chelsea have conceded 10 times.
People point to the fact that in comparison, Southampton have conceded half those goals. What teams have they played against? Nobody has pointed to the fact that Chelsea’s still is the second best defensive record in the league. It has come after playing against the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Everton and Manchester United. If that is not impressive enough, I dont know what is.
Is it so difficult to come to terms with the fact that the overall attacking quality of all the teams in the division has gone up a notch? Southampton themselves hit a record 8 goals against Sunderland. Samuel Eto’o has been in great form for the toffees. City still have one of the most fearsome strikers in all of Europe. Arsenal now boast of a genuine match winner in Alexis Sanchez. How many more marauding, killer forwards and midfielders need to be named that have made the Premier League a defender’s nightmare.
Some people also suggest that defending as we have come to know it is going down the sewer. What does an overall goal heavy frontline in the league and a defensive downward spiral add up to? That’s easy maths. In light of all these facts and thoughts it is time the Chelsea defense and this Mourinho team was afforded some breathing space, they are doing what they are supposed to do and in style at that. The QPR game has to be considered as a single instance, because for one Diego Costa wasn’t 100% fit. This Chelsea team are flamboyant, they can play counter attacking football in one moment and dominate possesion in the other.
Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, Filipe Luis, Thibaut Courtois are all together for the first time. Given time, this team can bring the best of Real Madrid and Barcelona at the same time on the same pitch in the same game. That would just be too much awesomeness to digest. Some people have also been pointing that Chelsea cant finish games. Give them time, Loic Remy, Didier Drogba and Diego Costa and they will all come through when they are all fully fit. The rest is fine already, there’s nothing to worry, improvement as always, is a very real possibility. Here are some stats about some of the best starts so far in the top tier of English football:
When talking about great starts and great teams of the Premier League generation, it’s Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ team that pops up first on the list. They played the 38 games without a single loss, winning 26 and drawing the remaining. Chelsea’s north London rivals finished with 90 points and were crowned the Champions after a historic campaign. Chelsea occupied the next Champions League berth at second place with 79 points. United and Liverpool followed. Yes, Manchester City closely fought for the Premier League relegation cup and failed, attaining the 16th spot on the table.
Talking of the start to that campaign, Arsenal won 10 of their first 13 games. Goes without saying that they drew the other three. Its not yet been 13 games into the 2014-15 season with only ten games played so far. Chelsea have won 8 out of these 10. Liverpool away and West Brom at the Bridge are the next two games. Not many people are betting their money on the reds to win at Anfield. West Bromwich have a neutral goal difference and have won 3 games so far. You win nothing for guessing the most probable outcome of the next two games.
That will make it 10 wins for Chelsea out of 12 games played. Including the draws against Manchester City as well as United. That’s matching the Invincible’s start with a game to spare and perhaps go better with it. How hard can Sunderland be?
Chelsea may not match Arsene Wenger’s team that did not lose a single match. Wenger clearly believes its unachievable. However, Chelsea have already been ludicrously close to that feat under Mourinho, missing by a solitary loss. It is not that out of reach for Jose Mourinho to replicate Wenger’s best and even go better. Is it?
That said, Chelsea may or may not be Invincible this season. The next games will, in all likelihood establish the fact that this Chelsea team will start better than the history creating Arsenal side.
Manchester United (1993-94):
Can there be any discussion about great English teams that ends without the mention of the Red Devils? Yes is the answer now. Back in the day when the Premier League first became a reality, United beat Aston Villa to the title by 10 points. The following season was about consolidating on that foundation and win the 9th top tier title for Manchester United. That season was one of the finest witnessed to date in terms of the start. United were in no mood to let anyone else have a thought about wrestling the title away from them. Liverpool had freshly fallen into footballing wilderness and finished the season at 8th. Arsenal won the 4th place trophy that season too. United in truth make it look easy as they finished with 92 points, 8 clear of the closest competitor.
Talking of the start to that campaign, United won 13 of the first 15 games. The class of 92 was too classy for Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United and Arsenal, et al. In the first 10 games, they had managed 8 wins, laboured to a draw and had lost once, accumulating 25 points with a goal difference of +14. Chelsea have yet to play 15 games, and that 13 games haul is very much manageable in light of the fixtures coming up, but we can’t be certain of the next 5 games because of the teams involved, the general sentiment is however in favor of Chelsea against tricky games involving Spurs, Newcastle United and Liverpool.
The second stat on the other hand can be compared match for match, and guess what: Chelsea trump that United team. While United won 8 games, Chelsea have already done the same. United drew one game and lost another of the first 10. Chelsea remain unbeaten with two draws, against (admit it!) two of the most difficult teams. On the points front, Chelsea are ahead of the eventual Champions for that season after ten games. Chelsea also beat that team in terms of the goal difference by a margin of two.
The outcome of this season is very much in the balance and as always, only time will tell but for the moment things are bright and beatiful for the Blues!
Some more stats:
Here are some stats from seasons gone by where teams have performed well in the opening ten matches.
|Season||Teams||Won||Drawn||Lost||GD||Points||Position after 10 games||Position: end of season|
Any man in his senses can see that more than anything, even a leaky defense, good starts mean a lot and count for the eventual finish for a team. In the 2005-06 season, Chelsea had conceded only 4 goals. This season they let in 3 against Everton itself. These have been counteracted by the way Chelsea have been scoring goals. Never before have they dominated possesions and shown creativity as they do now. Because if a good defense was the main yardstick to measure league winners, Southampton have conceded only 5 so far, are they the Champions then?
Why can’t it occur to Mourinho that he has played results oriented games and has always bossed them, it’s time to move to the next style of play: entertaining and boss it too. He has a team very much capable of that, if that comes at the expense of a somewhat less consolidated defense, so be it. That’s the flipside, the results still speak for Mourinho as they did last season.
Looking at the above table, some would say that the Eventual Champions in half of those seasons were not even at the top after 10 games played and hence this solid start is no guarantee to a Premier League trophy. To them, here is the answer: How many times has a Jose Mourinho team been on top of the table after 10 games, or even close and not been crowned the Champion come end of the season. Never. Fact.
Remember that the only thing in the Premier League better than this team is another Mourinho team from the past.
Stop making the defense the focal point, that’s the way football is going these days. Instead, focus on the end product. Football is supposed to thrill, to excite and to entertain. What’s wrong if this Mourinho team does it in style. The League title is still a long distance away, yet it is very much a reality. A very likely possibility. A very exciting journey, Enjoy it.
What do you think as a Chelsea fan? Let us know in the comments.