Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Mourinho talking tough but all is not well at the Bridge...

Following Chelsea's 0-0 draw with Aston Villa Jose Mourinho took time out to ignite another war of words with Fergie over the current state of play in the two-horse-race for the title.

The Chelsea manager rightly pointed out United have dropped five points over the Christmas period in the games with West Ham United and Newcastle United, as the Portuguese manager says United could be a lot further ahead and so they should be, but where I disagree with Jose is that the Blues look to be nowhere near the side that they have been over the last two years. When Chelsea have been playing well in the previous two campaigns you'd regularly see 10 players having very good games, but right now you're lucky if you see two players performing at their highest level.

This season Drogba and Essien have been their best players, but when it doesn't happen for them - as was the case against Villa, then they look very ordinary indeed, granted Drogba and Lampard missed easy chances against the Villa but the Blues overall performance wasn't up to scratch.

It's a measure of how things have changed that Mourinho was happy to praise his team following this game that you'd normally expect them to win. In contrast Aston Villa were well beaten 3-0 by United recently.

Everyone is going on about the goals Chelsea have been leaking of late, but the problems go a lot deeper than that. The impact of Shevchenko and Ballack hasn't been what many observers expected, and I dont actually remember Shevchenko touching the ball against Villa. However, while it would be wrong to blame the two big name stars for the defensive problems at Chelsea, it isn't too far off the truth to suggest that the balance of the Blues team and squad has been affected by the arrival of Ballack and Sheva. The injury to Petr Cech is another major fact of course.

Mourinho might be attempting to taunt Ferguson by telling him that United should be further ahead, but from the outside looking in, the Chelsea camp looks rattled and out of sorts - they no longer give the impression of being a collective happy lot, the rest of the season is going to very interesting indeed.

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