You may have heard by now: Chelsea's invincible dream is over. Alright, Jose Mourinho even insisted himself that it wasn't going to happen, but it didn't stop a few fans dreaming of emulating the success of London rivals Arsenal.
So, as Chelsea lost their first game of the season at the hands of Newcastle United earlier today, what went wrong? The Blues' starting XI featured a whole host of superstars: Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, John Terry and main man Diego Costa all featured at St James' Park.
Chelsea's main man?
Perhaps, though, Diego Costa isn't Chelsea's main man...there was one thing missing this afternoon, and that was midfield powerhouse Nemanja Matic.
When Costa picked up a suspension ahead of the Blues' showdown with Tottenham this past week, Jose Mourinho insisted that he trusted his replacements...
"We don't speak about Diego. We trust Remy and Drogba the same way we trust Diego. This is not our way of work."
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He was right to trust Remy and Drogba...they both netted against Spurs, and Mourinho looked a genius.
And, before Matic sat out of this afternoon's proceedings, Mourinho's comments were rather similar, as he once again backed his squad players to impress...
“We trust other people and we forget about Matic," he said. "He has a little bit of a holiday, a free weekend which he deserves very much, so he will return stronger.”
Matic, though, appears to be irreplaceable, and Mourinho will now be hoping more than ever that the player returns 'stronger' than ever.
The midfielder, who has been absolutely outstanding since returning to Stamford Bridge just under a year ago was suspended for today's showdown, and his absence was really felt in the Chelsea rank as they failed to dominate the game against Alan Pardew's hard-working outfit.
Struggle at St James' Park
There's no doubt about it, without Matic, Chelsea are not the same. Cesc Fabregas was not his normal influential self and the Blues struggled to dictate play without their leading midfielder.
Chelsea let Newcastle's Jack Colback get into them, whilst John Obi Mikel just couldn't replicate Matic's incredible performances in the middle of the park. Without question, the ex-Benfica man is now Mourinho's most valuable player, and today proved just that.
He's a superstar
He has a little bit of everything; he's an old fashioned type of midfielder, but also one that has a touch of quality. Matic will net you a wonder goal from time-to-time, but will consistently deliver in the position that he has now made his own.
The likes of Gary Cahill and John Terry have been in fine form throughout the campaign so far, but they have been protected like never before. Terry, of course, was part of the Chelsea squad that enjoyed the presence of Claude Makelele in the holding midfield role. Matic has something of a Makelele inside him, but arguably offers this Chelsea team even more.
Don't get me wrong, Chelsea are by no means a one man team. They will also bounce back very soon and maintain their title charge throughout the course of the campaign. But, there's no getting away from the fact that Matic is crucial for their charge this season.
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