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Is Jose Mourinho Finally Settling Down With His Best XI?

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho

Slowly but steadily Mourinho is coming to his football’ senses. During the past month, with abundant talent throughout the squad, the Portuguese coach has shifted and adjusted several parts on Chelsea’s engine looking for the best team to get victories in all fronts. And with 10 points out of a possible 12, he seems very close to have achieved it.

After a roller-coaster month, with games packed as tight as people on a subway car, Chelsea is one win away from taking over 60 percent of the points available on that stretch. The team, began stuttering with back to back losses on the first two games (at Everton, vs. Basel), but it has found a better form, claiming three wins and an important away draw (at Tottenham) in the last four matches. So, what changed? Well, aside from the level of the opposition (Fulham, Swindon and Steaua aren’t tough teams per se), the lineup has been treading towards its full potential. Players such as Mata, Schurrle, Torres, Terry and Cech are hitting top form, while others like Hazard, Ivanovic, Oscar have remained consistently good during this part of the campaign.

Taking a closer look into the most important matches -at Tottenham and away to Steaua- from the three victories and one draw, we see that Chelsea needs to rely more on attacking the flanks, and not settling/sabotaging itself with playing everything through the middle (Oscar). This implies that even though Hazard has played at a good level so far, he might need to be benched to give the starting position on the left to Schurrle. The german has showed every time he is on the pitch he is more effective in opening the opposition’s defense down the sides than Hazard, whose talent is thwarted by his tendency to look for opponents to dribble and ridicule (thus taking every play towards the middle) while ignoring the open space on the sidelines.

Additionally, after being challenged by Mourinho, particularly for his lack of commitment in defense, Mata has rose to the challenge and succeeded. He is playing as masterful as always in attack but making a strong effort to help in defence every time he can. Hence, Mata should accompany Schurrle on Chelsea’s starting lineup from the opposite lane, both, him and Schurrle give Chelsea the extra dimension it often needs to win in close matches. Obviously, Oscar is to remain in the attacking midfielder role role. His forward vision and defensive sacrifice complement the other two extreme midfielders very well.

Furthermore, Torres has left no doubt he should be the starting striker. His attitude, runs and plays, are at least two levels above the other two options as a forward (Eto’o,Ba). He instigated Tottenham’s defense for 80 minutes, before seeing a dubious second yellow card. Sadly, he is expected to be sidelined for three weeks with an injury on his knee from the match in Bucharest. Hopefully, he returns with the same fire that allowed him to start the last two games.

So, everything seems to be falling in place for Mourinho to have an easy choice on who is in the starting lineup thanks to his handling of the team, still, there are several choices he has made that need to be corrected for the betterment of the team: first, he is using Lampard too much, and Luiz keeps playing as a center-back. Second, with such a talented squad is appalling to see him take a conservative approach to games like he did vs. Tottenham. The changes made on the second half of that game prove that Chelsea can dominate games from beginning to end, if the proper personnel is selected.

In conclusion, the “special one” needs to keep correcting his fault judgement as he has done so far, as demonstrated with the faith put on Torres and Mata, and to begin transmitting his confidence on to the pitch for this Chelsea side to be as special as he is.

PS: If Azpilicueta is not properly used, he will probably leave and Chelsea will regret it. Just like it happened with Oriol Romeu before him.

Is this Chelsea’s best XI? (players mentioned in the second line to be rotated)