Mourinho’s Big Game Prowess in Second Spell
Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea has been a success so far. Inheriting an unbalanced side in 2013, The Special One wasted no time in disassembling and constructing a new team. Mourinho has now crafted a wonderful squad. After a promising opening show, his orchestra began to fulfill its potential in his second season in charge. The show must go on.
Amidst all the praise, Jose’s record against other big sides has been spectacular, to say the least. No defeats to United. No defeats to Liverpool. No defeats to Arsenal. A solitary defeat to Manchester City (that too in a relatively low-key cup fixture). Maintaining such an impeccable record over the course of 2 years is no easy job. Just ask Carlo Ancelotti. Or any top coach in another league for that matter.
Mourinho’s success had and never will come easy. Each big game has been a different matter altogether. With that said, here is a look at Chelsea’s most crucial big game performances. The criteria? Quality and manner of performance, impact of result.
5. Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal
October 5th 2014
Not a tactical masterpiece, but a very dominant win from a revamped Chelsea side. Diego Costa continued his form and Eden Hazard’s stylish penalty was one for the ages. This is also the game known for Arsene Wenger’s infamous shove. The win was a statement of intent, if anything, and signified that Chelsea would dominate opponents to the title. For the first half of the season at least.
The curious thing about this win was the fact that it was a proactive, not reactive win from Chelsea.
4. Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United
April 18th 2015
Tactically, Louis Van Gaal’s side was comprehensively defeated in this game.
Coming off the back of 3 dominant wins over challenging opposition, United looked like the one team capable of defeating the blue juggernaut. However a well worked Chelsea goal was enough to see the Red Devils off, and effectively gave Chelsea the championship crown. Their defense in particular was impenetrable and well organized. This also seemed to be the result in big games Mourinho was working towards for a while- Chelsea didn’t concede after going ahead. This wasn’t the case against PSG and Manchester City, but to name a few.
3. Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea
April 27th 2014
Tactically, it was another ‘typical’ Mourinho win. What made it so special? Abramovich’s boys managed to keep a clean sheet against the likes of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge away at Anfield. The Merseyside storm was contained with relative ease. The match as a whole had multiple implications as well. Liverpool lost the title. Chelsea seemingly secured third place. Not to mention a certain veteran’s infamous slip…
2. Chelsea 1-3 Atletico Madrid
April 30th 2014
This list was intended to be of the most important big game results, which does not necessarily translate to wins. And so, 3 days after pulling off a miracle over Liverpool, this Chelsea side succumbed to a superior Atletico Madrid. (Eden Hazard’s lackluster marking aside) Atletico simply played Chelsea at their own game- in a far better manner. Intense pressing, defensive resilience, attacking flair; Atletico had it all. Mourinnho himself likely noticed this beforehand, showcased by his raid on Atletico Madrid’s stars later in the summer.
1. Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea
February 3rd 2014
The best big game performance by this Chelsea side since Jose Mourinho’s return to the Bridge. Defensively organized, adventurous when attacking and mentally prepared for anything- this win characterized the ultimate Mourinho team. Setting a team up to beat the Manchester City juggernaut at its peak was a tough ask, but Chelsea did just that. They did not park the bus either and looked to play on the ball. Branislav Ivanovic’s goal was the only chance converted in an otherwise one team show. Did I mention that this was the first team to keep a clean sheet at the Etihad in 3 years? (Yes, City was a Premier League superpower then)