Chelsea opts for success over style


When reality bites, even his biggest detractors must concede that Mou-rinho’s decision to leave Didier Drogba on the bench until the start of the second half was another tactical masterclass.

Chelsea’s manager is staying true to the game — his game — because the end result will be a fourth Barclays Premier League title for this football club.

At times you are left wondering what Eden Hazard, Willian and Oscar make of it all when Mourinho starts working on team shape six days before a clash with Arsenal.

This trio have an element of fantasy about their game, with those delightful touches around the corner and the clever wall passes that they can play at will. The master simply wants results.

To start without a striker, to ignore the collective groans around the country by starting Willian in a deeply withdrawn role behind Hazard and Oscar, was a statement of intent.

Mourinho was forced into it, of sorts, because he has been deprived of Diego Costa and Loic Remy in recent weeks, and his warrior Drogba could not train all week.

Even so, you would not put it past Mourinho — who pulled a similar stunt by playing Andre Schurrle as a false nine at Manchester United last season — to have done it anyway.

When it comes to work-rate, discipline and desire, no-one can accuse these players of cheating. Everyone has a job to do in this team.

To watch Hazard, the PFA player of the year, Oscar and Willian sacrifice their A-game for the greater good of the team demonstrates a unique commitment to Mourinho’s methods. They have bought in.

What happened to the style, the swagger and the pomp about the team who won so handsomely at Swansea, putting five past Garry Monk’s side without reply at the Liberty Stadium on January 17?

They traded it for Mourinho’s tactics, using the extra time during the week following their Champions League elimination against Paris Saint-Germain for match-specific preparation.

With only one game a week since Chelsea went out on away goals on March 11, Mourinho has used the time on the training field to prepare for Premier League matches as a one-off.

Against Manchester United he deliberately conceded possession, suffocating Marouane Fellaini and waited to hit Louis van Gaal’s team on the break. They won 1-0, even if it was far from pretty.

Here at the Emirates, against a team with eight successive wins in the Premier League, he bewildered their defence by allowing his front three to rotate.

Willian (left) was exceptional as he flitted across Arsenal’s back line and pestered Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin when he wanted to win back the ball.

The Brazilian forward engineered Chelsea’s best chance, a clever angled ball in the first half that found the feet of Ramires running into the box. Arsenal keeper David Ospina saved well.

This was perfectly disciplined, if uncomfortable to watch at times as Mourinho looked on approvingly from the sidelines.

When he was forced into a change at the break because Oscar had been ferried to hospital with suspected concussion following his collision with Ospina, he turned to the experience of Drogba.

At the age of 37 he served his team-mates well in the second half, chasing 60 yards towards his own goal at one point to stop the forward run of Nacho Monreal down the left.

Towards the end of the second half, as this game gravitated towards its inevitable conclusion, Chelsea relied on their captain John Terry’s leadership skills to see it home.

A year ago this team was experimental, with various formations on trial as Mourinho assembled his next title-winning team.

Here at the Emirates, it has finally taken shape. – Daily Mail

Original source: Chelsea opts for success over style