Jose Mourinho has revealed that the only reason he left Oscar out of the squad that drew 1-1 with Southampton at the weekend was because he was ill.
The Special One caused a stir with his team sheet when it became apparent that the Brazil international, who has been a key figure for the Blues so far this term, wasn’t going to be playing any part of the fixture at the St. Mary’s Stadium, despite the fact that a number of other figures were being rested.
Yet it was revealed yesterday afternoon, via Chelsea’s official Twitter account, that Oscar was ill, and so was forced out of contention for a place in the squad rather than having been dropped.
The match in question finished 1-1, with a penalty allowing Mourinho’s side to draw level with their opponents after a Saido Mane opener gifted the hosts the initiative. Whilst the result didn’t damage their title hopes any, with both Manchester City and Manchester United also failing to win games against Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur, Mourinho will be hoping for a more efficient performance when his side take on Spurs this Thursday.
For the New Years day clash it’s likely that Chelsea will once again be without Oscar, and so either Francesc Fabregas will play once more in the advanced role, with John Obi Mikel slotting in to help Nemanja Matic protect the back four, or Willian may start, having been used as a substitute against the Saints.
As we approach the halfway point in the season it’s a validated certainty that Mourinho will have his eyes firmly set on the Premier League title now. Having lost just once so far this term Chelsea sit three points ahead of City at the summit of the table, and their dominant performances have seen most register them as the genuine favourites.
Yet sides like Tottenham, who have recovered from an early seasonal slump this campaign, may pose problems, and Mourinho isn’t a manager who is known to like constantly changing his lineups. Oscar’s illness might keep him sidelined for a time, but you can bet your last penny that his manager will be praying for a swift recovery.