First game of 2014 finished and another 3 points safely in the bag. We had a good return from the fast paced festive fixtures, 10 points from 12 and only 2 points off the summit of the Premier League leaves us in a good position to kick on with this year before the Champions League fixtures start again in February.
So Southampton; Awful conditions down on the South coast against a well-drilled and good passing side but we held our own in a game which will be dominated by Oscars decision to take a tumble rather than round the keeper and poke it in the net and Mourinhos’ decision to bring off Schurrle and Mata in the 53rd minute for Willian and the aforementioned Oscar. Mata, by all accounts wasn’t impressed with the decision but Jose was again, as he has been so many times in his managerial career, fully vindicated by it as both players scored and Oscar also provided the assist for the goal scored by Willian.
The only negative was the booking for Oscar when he should have scored. What Mourinho will make of this, I guess we’ll find out in due course but after being so critical of Luis Suarez last week in our game against Liverpool, I would expect some sort of public acknowledgement that Oscar was in the wrong.
However, Oscars’ contribution thereafter was majestic. Involved in everything and providing for the crucial 2nd goal for Willian to finish before himself getting on the score-sheet to put the game well beyond a very tired and leggy Southampton side that have only won 2 of their last 9 games. It will be a performance that would of pleased the travelling fans and also Mourinho because it seems the more he says we won’t win the league, the more ominous our form becomes – our next fixture is an FA Cup tie with Derby County which will enable him, no doubt to shuffle the pack a little and give a deserved rest to some.
The thing I like about us at the moment is that we haven’t been playing well, certainly not as well enough as we all thought we would when Jose took over during the summer but the stubbornness and the ruthless edge we processed in his first season (and that the time carried on in subsequent years) still shines through when the conditions get a little tougher. Would you want to face a Chelsea team in the middle of March on a cold, wet afternoon in a scrappy and hard-fought game?! I wouldn’t. I see City and to a degree Arsenal playing with abit more flair but with the exception of Kompany & Toure for City, who wants to get scrappy in either team when it gets abit tough going?! I think it’s going to go right to the wire this season with 3 teams now in the mix for the title and do you know what?! I still think, with abit of luck we might just nick it with a squad that’s not the even the best in the league. To add weight to this argument; take a peek at Arsenals fixtures from February 8th to April 5th!!!
We should all take a second to admire Petr Cech today. Equalling Peter Bonettis’ clean sheet record for the club! 208 (and counting!!) Hats off to ‘Big Pete’!!!
I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas & celebrated well for New Year.
Thanks for reading… C’mon CHELS!!!