It was bound to happen eventually. The arrival of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea this summer, coupled with their transfer activity prompted many to claim the title would be contested between Manchester City and Chelsea. After an indifferent start, Chelsea are starting to show the squad strength that little others can boast in the Premier League. Many felt that it would be too hard for a manager to get the selection balance right between so many players. If there was one man who could do it, it is Jose Mourinho. Chelsea have only lost two games this season in all competitions. A Premier League loss to Everton and European loss to Basel is all that blots the Blues record, but Chelsea have now won their last six in all competitions.
Jose Mourinho is a manager who likes to attempt to win all the trophies his teams compete in. That is evident from his previous spell at Chelsea where he won two league titles, two league cups and an FA cup. It therefore makes sense to Mourinho to have a large squad of quality players so that the clubs is able to compete in all its competitions. Chelsea’s past three games have been in three different competitions and they have won them all. Firstly they beat Schalke in Europe 3-0 followed by wins against Manchester City in the Premier League and Arsenal in the league cup. In all three competitions, Mourinho was able to name a side brimming with internationals. The Chelsea coach made no fewer than ten changes from the team that beat Manchester City in the Arsenal game, but it was a team that comprehensively beat the Gunners.
When such a big squad is available, the balance between continuity and change becomes important. Against Manchester City, Mourinho made only one change from the team that beat Schalke. This continuity was an important factor in the win, as the side had a great deal of confidence going into the City game. Particularly, Mourinho’s faith in Fernando Torres was an important factor as the striker continued the good form he showed in scoring two goals against Schalke by gaining an assist and scoring the winner against City. Earlier on in the season after scoring in Chelsea’s European Super Cup loss to Bayern, Torres was dropped. Very much a confidence player, it seems Mourinho could be learning how to get the best out of Torres.
In the League Cup fixture against Arsenal, Mourinho showed the importance of change. By resting many all but one of the team who played Manchester City, Mourinho was able to bring others in to get game time and still get a result. Juan Mata in particular excelled in this fixture being given his opportunity to shine. It will be interesting to see in their weekend fixture against Newcastle whether Mata will be given the opportunity to continue the form he showed in midweek. At the same time, Andre Schurrle, who impressed against Man City by scoring a goal, and Eden Hazard who scored twice in the win against Norwich, will also want to continue the good form they have shown. Mourinho has already stated the importance of Oscar in his team, so it is the others around him who will be more expendable.
In their last six games Mourinho has got the balance right. He now has some big decisions to make regarding team selection in the coming games. With Chelsea wanting to do well in every competition, Mourinho must ensure that all of his players get game time in order that they are able to win games even when they rotate. Mourinho has always been seen as a great man manager. He is someone who quickly builds a rapport with all of his players, making them feel a part of the squad even if they are not getting much game time. It is this quality that will give Chelsea an edge in all competitions they compete in this season, but for many Chelsea fans, the Premier League is the one they want to win again. Being only two points behind the leaders Arsenal, Chelsea look in good shape heading into the winter period.