Oscar Dos Santos Emboaba Junior, a name that has been on the lips of Chelsea fans for more than 2 years now. Once a player constantly playing in the shadows of Juan Mata. Oscar came into his own since the return of Jose Mourinho two seasons ago. The outcome was that Juan Mata struggled to get any game time and was subsequently sold to northern rivals in Manchester.
Oscar’s first season under Mourinho was partly hit and partly miss. The second, even more so because he was supposed to be the sole number 10 in the team. Willian did a good job of filling in when Oscar was having some time away from the pitch. However, Willian lacks more than he provides in that role.
Oscar has been grilled and fried for the later half of last season due to his apparent inability to perform with consistency. Indeed, consistency is the yardstick used to measure any top class player these days. It is not the luxury to be had but a necessity for every game. For some reason or another, Oscar has failed to achieve that for every full season he has played at Chelsea. Somehow, he manages to fade out in later parts of the season like a burning piece of paper.
Or so the popular perception is. Public opinion is only one part of the reality, one must look at the numbers before making a conclusion. In Oscar’s case, so many people have linked him in so many ways away from the Bridge. It is too soon, and Mourinho has rightly decided not to let him go just yet. He knows a thing or two about performances and we will try to shed some light on the reasons for the same. This article in no way intends to save Oscar from flaks he receives for not performing his way through an entire season. Rather, it aims to help people understand the reason and tell the whole story, not just a part of it.
Football is much like 24 hours of LeMans, a test of stamina and endurance. Most people think that Oscar is severely lacking in that aspect. To drive home the point consider the fact that Mesut Ozil, who has been involved only in 22 games for Arsenal has almost the same number of minutes as Oscar, who was involved in 28 games for the Champions. There may be a plethora of reasons to that but the one defining fact is this: Every summer, when most club stars enjoy holidays with their friends and families, Oscar is on service for his nation. Had it not been for a late-season injury or perhaps Mourinho’s will, it would have been the same story this summer. But he has been rested by Brazil boss Dunga for his Copa America squad. This omission should go a long way in helping Oscar rejuvenate. Since 2012 Olympics, Oscar has been playing non-stop. There are jokes around that Oscar has been playing football since the beginning of time, and rightly so.
Over-exploitation of his stamina has led him to run out of steam during the later minutes of a game, which are crucial at times. The intolerable frequency of games also counts as the major reason for Oscar’s second half of the season dip in form and intensity. For two years, he has started the season for Chelsea in scintillating fashion and then lost his legs to fatigue. Again, it’s all well documented, but the rest from national duty this summer should aid his cause.
Mourinho sticks with Oscar for good:
The Special One’s arrival back at the Bridge changed a number of things for Chelsea, starting with their playing style. They are less of a long ball team than they have ever been. Oscar has been integral to his push for attractive football. Being perhaps the only number 10 in the world who has as many defensive duties as the Brazilian. It has been a sea change for Mourinho, who has altered his style to a great extent. Players have had to adapt, and the ones who didn’t are no longer at the club.
After having put 2 years in such a venture of style and attraction, Mourinho can’t just risk it by allowing Oscar to go. It would be a headache of prime intensity to find someone who can provide a like for like replacement for the Brazilian besides providing consistency. The quest for Mourinho is to extract that consistency out of what he has: Oscar. Evidence suggests that he is the best playmaker for the role. The intention should be to develop and evolve on the present foundations, a revolution is not a feasible possibility.
The argument for Oscar’s Defence:
There has been so much negative PR in the media for the past six months regarding Oscar that it becomes difficult to recall the following statement of Mr. Mourinho, back from 2013:
“Oscar is my No 10 and, if somebody tells me that Oscar is not Chelsea’s best player since the beginning of the season, I would have to disagree,”
“I want Oscar as my No 10 and I want the other two players from the sides to adapt to that and learn how to do things they were not ready to do before.”
It has almost been two years since that statement, but given the economics and complications of any transfer of the Brazilian, it still stands true. Now we shall try to put some numbers in perspective so as to make the case for the Brazilian:
Oscar is arguably the best number 10 in the league, especially for the way Chelsea play. He is the selfless creator but is also the defence in front of the back line. Pressing for the ball when possession is lost, tackling players in their own half and then creating chances is a lot to ask for from any player. Not everyone can do it, try imagining it.
On the defensive side of things, for every game that Oscar plays, he puts in a considerably better defensive display than most number 10s of other top Premier League Clubs. In comparison to Mesut Ozil, Juan Mata and Philippe Coutinho, Oscar puts almost double the effort in tackles. He has almost two tackles to his name, only Coutinho has a comparable number and even that is someway of the preferred Brazilian playmaker.
Given his slight frame and small size, people would think that he can be bullied off the balls in the air. Surprisingly, he is better than all the named playmakers, even when they were having the best of their times. The difference between Oscar’s aerial ability compared to the other players named in this article, is just phenomenal. These are the qualities that set him apart. This is why Juan Mata is a United player today. Stats say it was right to have happened.
In terms of the normal challenges put in to dispossess opponents, Oscar comes out on top again. He commits more fouls in the opponent half than any number ten in the league does. The result is that the ball is won for people like Hazard and Fabregas, who do their bit and run with the plaudits most of the time. Time to cut the little Brazilian some slack, wouldn’t you say?
Few would forget the scathing way in which Mourinho grilled Hazard that night against Atletico Madrid. Recently, youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek was scolded for almost the same thing by Mourinho in Australia. Bet a thousand bucks that you’d never hear something similar about the Brazilian though. His work-rate is phenomenal, for half the season at least and should be an ongoing thing this coming season. He clears at least three times the danger as compared to the other top playmakers. Now talk about lack of intensity or effort.
The argument for an attacking Oscar:
It should be clear by now that Oscar is the best playmaker when it comes to stifling opponents in every part of the pitch with his tackles and clearances. He also wins a considerable number of aerial battles, so the only remaining part of the job requirement is the creativity. Have a look at these:
The very same playmakers, all compared again for attacking stats for each game they play. Without an argument, Oscar should be worth his weight in gold.
In terms of attack score from Squakwa, Oscar comes second only to Philippe Coutinho, who had the time of his life. If Oscar has maintained his form from first half of the season, he would have triumphed. In all likelihood, that should be the case next season.
When it comes to laying the ball for someone else to finish a move, Oscar comes on top. Despite his alleged lack of form in the second half of the season, he handily beats everyone. Juan Mata included.
For a playmaker, it is essential that more of his balls are aimed towards the goalscorers and assist makers than they are to the shields in midfield. In that aspect too, Oscar is as good as anyone. Finishing closely behind Ozil, with 4 fewer passes in each game.
If there is one thing that Chelsea fans loved Juan Mata for, it was goalscoring. He passes were always beautiful and artistic, but in front of the goal, he was the best playmaker that there is. The trend has not changed yet and Oscar trails the Spaniard in that aspect. But while United had Falcao and RVP as strikers, Chelsea had Costa and Remy. The dearth for goals wasn’t quite like the seasons gone by at the Bridge. Even then, Oscar is the second best in the list and more than makes the cut.
Every player is so different that it becomes almost impossible to compare them. Some please the eyes and some please their managers or teammates. It should be apt to say that Oscar is a good combination of these all. His abilities as a passer, an assist maker are supreme. But more significantly, he knows how to harras and embarrass the opposition in their own half. These qualities make him the most unorthodox number 10 in the league, and the best that there is for Mourinho’s Chelsea. At this point, after all these numbers are presented to you, it should be clear that Oscar in all likelihood is going nowhere.
He is the driving force of the Mourinho revolution at Chelsea. When Chelsea are playing the stunning, mesmerizing Chelsea-way of football, you can come back and thank me for the insight. The best of counter-attacking and pressing-passing combinations is going to be served right to your plates. Enjoy. Just one more thing, leave the little Brazilian alone.
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