Juan Mata’s hard-working display in the league cup tie at Swindon gave Mourinho plenty to think about with the Special One keen to praise his graft in the press conference for the Spur game. Like most fans I am a huge fan of the classy Spaniard and hope he works his way back into the starting eleven.
With Chelsea’s number ten back in the good books there will be plenty to ponder for the coaching staff to see how they can get the best out of the three amigos and get the forward players firing more consistently. There are no such problems for Oscar at the moment, the young Brazilian showing remarkable consistency that will take a lot for Mata to dislodge from the central creative role.
In a disjointed Chelsea performance against Basel, a game that too often lacked intensity, Oscar still managed to be the star performer. His smart run and cool finish, and a dipping, spectacular effort that cannoned off the bar might have been the highlights but his performance offered so much more. His positioning was very clever, drifting into wide positions to overload full backs and dropping deeper into midfield to instigate attacks when no openings looked forthcoming. His run of course was one of the few that looked to get in behind Basel’s defensive line in a dour first half. It was a below par game but everything that was good about Chelsea stemmed from the Brazilian. He helped create two chances on goal and completed 18 from 24 passes in the attacking third. He completed two take-ons from four attempts and won four of his five tackles. Mata’s thirty minutes against Basel were not to his usual standard with only four passes completed in the final third from only eight attempted passes. He did manage to create one chance but failed in his only take-on attempt.
Against Fulham the goals continued as did the Brazilian’s influence. He completed 83% passes successfully, 26 out of 32 completed in the final third, only a few passes behind Hazard. Oscar created three chances, with André Schürrle the only player to create more, and he completed one, out of an attempted two, take-ons. Perhaps the most crucial statistic in this game was the tackles won, Oscar completing all seven of his attempted tackles and helping Chelsea to start attacks high up the pitch. This was the work-rate that Mourinho has allured to and it stands to reason why he was so pleased to see Mata step up his efforts without the ball in the league cup tie.
The case for Oscar’s inclusion in pretty unarguable at the moment. He has scored more, created more, passed more and tackled more than any of our other forward players throughout this early part of the season. It is up to the other attacking players to match that effort and up to the coaches to try and find the best combination to form the attacking trio. The Spurs game promises to be an early season indicator as to how close we are to getting the balance right.