On Boxing Day morning, before Chelsea beat West Ham United 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, CaughtOffside‘s Robert Summerscales wrote a very interesting article on the reasons behind Jose Mourinho’s success this season. Read it here..
Stability Not Squad Size – That’s Why Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea Will Win The Premier League This Season
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea spent Christmas Day at the top of the Premier League table.
The Blues have been champions at the end of the last three seasons in which they topped the tree on December 25.
Bookies reckon the Stamford Bridge club will again lift the trophy, with their title odds as short as 4/11 on the high street.
Chelsea deserve their status as Premier League favourites – after all, they have been the best team in England by a long way this season.
Many people claim that Chelsea’s domestic dominance this term is a result of them having a huge squad.
However, this is not the case. In fact, the Blues have used just 20 players in the Premier League this season – fewer than any other club in England’s top flight.
Manchester City have used 23 players, while Manchester United have called up 31 different men during Louis van Gaal’s reign so far.
Although Chelsea’s squad is not as big as people think, it is, of course, packed full of high quality stars.
Of the 20 players to feature, 19 are senior internationals, with France Under-21 defender Kurt Zouma the only one yet to earn a full cap.
Chelsea’s success under Mourinho has been built on stability, rather than squad depth.
Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry and Eden Hazard have all started every one of Chelsea’s 17 Premier League games.
Meanwhile, Thibaut Courtois, Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic have made 16 league starts each.
The lack of injuries Chelsea have picked up in relation to their rivals – Arsenal and Man United in particular – has been crucial. Skeptics may suggest that the Blues have been lucky in this regard, but Roman Abramovich employs a world class backroom team who deserve a lot of credit for keeping the players fit.
The consistency in Mourinho’s team selection has enabled his players to form strong on-field relationships.
Cahill and Terry have built a brilliant partnership at the heart of Chelsea’s defence, helping the team keep eight clean sheets and concede just 13 goals – a joint league best, alongside Southampton.
Chelsea’s strong spine continues in midfield, where Fabregas and Matic – two very different players – have forged an excellent understanding. Without Matic’s dominance and defensive discipline, there is no way Fabregas could be afforded the freedom that has allowed him to provide 12 Premier League assists and two goals.
Throw in Eden Hazard’s mercurial wing play, Diego Costa’s superb leading of the attacking line and Courtois staking a claim to be called the best goalkeeper in the world, and it’s no surprise that Chelsea are everyone’s tip for the title.
The aforementioned have been in sensational form this term. As a result, Mourinho has resisted the urge to rest them too often. This has resulted in the likes of Andre Schurrle, Didier Drogba and Petr Cech starting just seven league games between them.
Mourinho has sent out a clear message. He is not interested in keeping fringe players happy – he is interested in winning. With a historic quadruple still on the cards, it is hard to question his methods at this stage.
However, with the festive period bringing four games over the next ten days, including league matches against three of the top seven, plus an FA Cup tie with Watford, the Special One may be forced into tinkering with his team a little more, which could test his side’s credentials.