Jose Mourinho has had a somewhat topsy-turvy season in his second coming at Stamford Bridge, with a few results raising eyebrows.
The double defeats to Basel in Europe, and limp showings against Newcastle and West Brom have certainly not gone down very well at Stamford Bridge. Some of Chelsea’s failings this season have been pinned on their woes in the striking department but under that striking rubble, another self-inflicted problem lies within. A miniature, Spanish one to be exact.
Juan Mata, a player who has been central to Chelsea’s successes the past two seasons and the club’s player of the year two years running, has been spending more time on the bench under Mourinho than ever before in his career.
The ‘Happy One’, has been in favour of playing Oscar over Mata and despite both of them being great players, things have not always been
going according to plan in the latter’s absence.
Every game that Chelsea have lost this season has not featured the Spaniard from the start. This is not just a freakish coincidence. Oscar, preferred over Mata because of his apparent ‘defensive capabilities’ according to his manager, is actually providing Chelsea with less of a creative output. While he has been scoring goals, his 14 chances created ranks behind
Hazard with 22, Mata with 17 and Ramires with 15. This despite having played more games than the Spaniard.
The Spaniard plundered 18 goals and assisted 34 times last season in all club competitions but Mourinho has appeared to snort with derision when questioned about his decision to omit the proven match-winner and fan favourite.
Against Southampton at the weekend, Mata once more showed Mourinho (like he did against Arsenal and Tottenham when he came on at half-time with the Blues trailing), just what he brings to the side with his two assists in the absence of the injured and withdrawn Oscar.
The Spaniard’s in swinging corner caused all kinds of chaos in the Southampton box eventually resulting in Cahill nodding the equaliser before his clipped delivery was met by Terry who only had the simplest of tasks to glance the header into the net; such was the exquisiteness of the cross.
Mata offers more of a central creative threat than Oscar and his link up play, eye for that killer, defence-splitting pass, brilliance at set-pieces and menacing shot put him above every other Chelsea player in this respect. He may not be the most hard-working, but he more than makes up for that in his ability to create and make Chelsea tick offensively. Mourinho needs
to accept that. The longer he does not, the more Chelsea’s chances of success this campaign will be jeopardised.
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