Mourinho the Messiah and his charmless acolytes come to WHL on Saturday lunchtime in what promises to be our toughest home game of the season thus far.
Jose has spent most of the season seemingly posing as some latter day Fagin, relying on his experienced gang to snaffle the goods whilst he schools his new recruits and rejects those he doesn’t trust; he even found time to do a little bit of thieving himself, prompting Willian’s sudden exit from the doctor’s waiting room. There’s a lot of water to go under Stamford Bridge but at the moment this looks like one Mourinho manoeuvre we should be grateful for. A bullet dodged.
The Chelsea of Mata, Oscar and Hazard was a beast to be feared, there was magic everywhere. Things have changed though, the manager’s caution has kicked in and maybe already Roman is already remembering why he showed him the highway the first time around. At least he was winning then. Successive defeats to Everton and Basel brought a petulant response from the man the media love after last week’s win over Fulham; he’s not used to a bit of criticism in this country where his comedy timing normally has the press pack eating out his hand.
Chelsea may have had a stuttering start to the season but they still have more than enough firepower to test our current remarkable defensive record. One goal conceded in nine games? What on Earth’s going on? Fouls given against Lloris and not given against Vertonghen have helped that record this week but even so, to combine a statistic like that with having record numbers of shots on goal just adds substance to the feeling we’ve already got, that the Bale money was spent very wisely.
Fitness will once more play a part in team selection with Rose, Kaboul, Lennon and Capoue all out or doubtful. Lamela must be close to a league start and Sigurdsson will find himself under pressure from Chadli, though the French/Moroccan is more likely to start on the bench this week. Alongside him will probably be Jermain Defoe, (“he’s a yiddo”). Whether he likes it or not, and despite his performances in the cups, Defoe’s best performances come when he’s unleashed against tiring defenders, not when he’s there from the start. It’s going to take a tactical u-turn of massive dimensions from AVB or a very long scoreless run from Soldado before Jermain starts a Premier League game I suspect. Sandro has more of a case, it’s easy to see him fitting in alongside either Dembele or Paulinho (or both) and creating a formidable midfield presence.
Villas-Boas has a selection issue on the right wing with Lamela pushing for his first Premier League start in place of Townsend. Despite the obvious class of the Argentine I’d be tempted to stick with Townsend whose directness and pace will give Cole and Terry much food for thought, remember when Bale forced Terry into getting himself sent off a few years ago? Elsewhere, Eriksen will be vital in trying to breach the Chelsea defence. If Mourinho’s attitude at Old Trafford is anything to go by we’ll be faced with a team designed to sit back and play on the break and also one that has the capability to play around our pressing game. It should be an intriguing tactical contest.
Mike Dean was the ref last time we met, in May at Stamford Bridge and he’s got the gig again.
It could be a bumpy ride, COYS.
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