“That’s very boring” jeered Arsenal fans to Mourinho’s charges as the two sides shared the spoils a weekend ago. “I think boring is 10 years without a title,” said Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, in his typically sly manner. While it may have been a battle of words between the two sides, the war has seemingly been won by the men in Blue – should they defeat Crystal Palace and clinch their first title since 2010.
In truth, Chelsea have been amongst the most entertaining sides in the league, at least according to statistics. Second only to Manchester City, Chelsea have scored 68 goals and registered 189 shots on target after having created 420 chances thus far.
It is their scintillating form, their hunger and desire to win and their willingness to grind out results that has seen them reside at the summit virtually all season. And it took the 2-1 defeat against Newcastle for Chelsea to move from a high-risk fully flamboyant play to a more methodical and calculative play. As a result, Mourinho has paid keen attention to what was once a vulnerable aspect of his side – his defence. Before the New Year, Chelsea may have been banging in the goals, but they conceded an average of 0.95 goals per game. And after the subtle shift in approach? They boast an average of 0.57 goals conceded per game.
However, while they have been able to successfully shut the door against their opponents, they haven’t been as effective in front of goal. Injuries to Diego Costa and Loic Remy has not helped their cause and now Chelsea have been highly dependent on their midfield, marshalled by Eden Hazard to rack in the goals. It may not be pretty football, but it is effective – as expertly portrayed by former Chelsea forward and now Burton Albion boss, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
“People have short memories, because at the beginning of the season he was playing absolutely magnificent (football).”
“It’s what happens when you go on a journey. At the beginning of the season you can have your plan, how you want to play; you start like that and it might all work. Then you get injuries and other problems, and you might not be able to play the way you want to play, but you still have to find a way to get results. That’s what Chelsea have done, and done better than all the other teams.”
So, as they prepare to seal the championship sooner rather than later, it is nothing less than what Chelsea deserves this season. And with three games to spare after Crystal Palace, they have done so in style.