Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ballon D'Or - time for a new winner?

Come January, two things are certain. You will have a large credit card bill to pay for Christmas gifts and Lionel Messi will be crowned the World's best player. Whilst the credit card bill will almost certainly drop through the door, there is a real chance that Messi could be usurped as the best player on the planet this coming year.

That is not of course to suggest that anyone is actually better than him given that Maradona, Pele, Cruyff, Beckenbauer and Zidane have all retired but the vote takes many things in to account, most importantly your achievements in that year.

Messi of course has still been wonderfully productive with 35 goals in 31 games this year meaning there should be little doubt as to the supremacy of his reign. There is however a feeling that the crown may have slipped slightly this season and certainly whilst Barcelona are still the champions of Spain, they were rendered obsolete in the Champions League by Bayern Munchen.

Whilst Messi's play still astounds, he looks a more tired and altogether human player than the one that has destroyed teams at will for the past five seasons. Injuries have started to niggle and many are now looking at this World Cup as his defining moment if he wishes to replace Maradona and Pele as the greatest player of all time.

It is of course all relative and his numbers still astound. This year however it does look a more open contest with other candidates coming in to the frame.

To be awarded the prize, a couple of criteria usually need to be met, you should be an attacking player - since 1996 only won defender has won, Fabio Cannavaro - therefore ruling Thiago Silva and the imperious Philip Lahm out of the running.

You should also generally play for a team that has won something, since Ronaldinho in 2004, no player has won the award when his team has failed to win silverware. This presumably should then should rule out Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

However, Ronaldo has scored 46 goals in 42 games so far this calendar year meaning his own absurd statistics carry on unchecked. Whilst less aesthetically pleasing - Sepp Blatter does prefer his hair however - than Messi he is no less effective and will surely be remembered as one of the greats of the game.

Whilst Bale was tremendous for Spurs last season, the fact that his performances were not for an elite team and that the beginning to his Madrid career has been iffy will preclude his being genuinely in the running this time.

Whilst there are superb players such as Iniesta and Pirlo who could have been worthy winners previously in a 'non Messi era', the competition would appear to be coming from two other fine attacking midfielders from Bayern, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. Of the two, Ribery appears to have the most momentum and support.

Bayern's all conquering season was the defining moment of these two players who's individual brilliance has often been intertwined with both personal and footballing disappointment. Both have been sublime this year for Bayern and either is good enough to receive the award even if they remain a step down from Messi or Ronaldo in terms of pure ability.

There are of course other worthy mentions such as Ibrahimovic and Robin Van Persie although both would find it hard to argue a case of matching these other names for sheer excellence and achievements this year.

Personally I would like to see either Philip Lahm or Ronaldo receive the award as both would be worthy recipients and it would at least break from the Sebastien Vettel like monotony of Messi winning. It may however be that it is Franck Ribery who could break the Messi stranglehold, either that or the diminutive Argentine could coast to an unprecedented fifth consecutive award - No Nonsense.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fernando Torres reborn?

Fernando Torres' malaise at Chelsea following his 50M move from Liverpool has attracted as many column inches as nearly any other issue in football in the past few seasons.

Such has been the level of his misery that opposition fans - including even some Liverpool ones - had stopped making fun of him and had started feeling sorry for him, it was horrible to watch, everyone just wanted him to be put out of his misery.

Torres admitted that at the height of his problems he simply didn't want to play and when he did, he didn't want to even receive the ball so bereft of confidence was he.

Nearly every critic and pundit in football had written Torres off, his pace had gone and he would never ever be the player he once was at Liverpool. The unplayable El Nino who tore Nemadja Vidic to pieces, those days were over.

Torres did actually score a good few goals for Chelsea last season but there was always a feeling that he was not showing up against the big teams. There were two many solitary goals in matches like the 8-0 hammering of Villa.

Now one swallow does not make a Summer but Torres' performance against City was magnificent. It also epitomised Torres' stay at Chelsea moving from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Back in September 2011 Torres played extremely well at Old Trafford in Chelsea's 3-1 defeat. Torres scored right after half time with a deft chip to haul Chelsea back into the match. Late on in the game he broke forwards and sublimely dummied David De Gea before missing an open goal. It was typical of Torres.

Against City it looked a case of deja vu with a shocking miss in the first half. This however appears a far mentally tougher Torres who responded by burning off Gael Clichy and supply a wonderfully clever pass for Andre Schurrle to score before marauding down the left and crashing an unstoppable shot against the junction of bar and post.

Torres' never give up attitude paid off in the final moments when he chased down a hopeful punt and took advantage of the ensuing chaos in the City defence to score the winner.

Now all this of course sounds like a bit of  a Torres love in and given his travails he probably does deserve one, but the question we have to honestly ask is he truly back?

There have been suggestions that the problems are all in his head and certainly anyone that saw him roast Gael Clichy yesterday would bare testament to the fact that he does not look short of pace or power. His shooting boots also looked in good working order with his second effort if not the first.

One interesting point was Mourinho's reaction to his hitting the woodwork. Mourinho almost looked a broken man at that stage possibly laying bare just how much he is investing personally in the rejuvenation of his Spanish No9.

Much of the scrutiny regarding Torres has surrounded his performances in the big games but even then that record can be misleading. He did so famously score the goal that sealed the win over Barca two season ago. Last year he scored in the UEFA Cup Final and he scored in this year's Super Cup as well as scoring twice last week in Germany in a must win game for Chelsea.

It is still unlikely that Torres' spell at Chelsea will ever be remembered as anything except a failure but his stats do deserve more consideration than people may realise. Should Torres continue this type of form under Mourinho then there may be a case for true optimism for the former Spain centre forward who of course will have a World Cup that he will want to go to - No Nonsense.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Does Gareth need baled out?

Whilst it would be completely premature to suggest that Gareth Bale has flopped at Real Madrid, what is entirely apparent however is that he is struggling so far and struggling badly.

One could argue none of this is Bale's fault. He did not after all decide the transfer fee, he is not choosing to be unfit or for his body to be letting him down and he is probably not asking to play whilst he is in that condition. He also has presumably not asked to be played out of position as he was in his first 'El Classico'.

One could also argue that (so far) much of this is Bale's fault. After all, when he effectively held Daniel Levy's feet to the fire by refusing to train at Spurs, knowing Levy's reputation and track record, what other outcome than a world record transfer fee did he think would occur?

One could also argue that a player who relies on pace and power and has a patchy fitness record should probably have felt that turning up for training early in the season might be a good idea knowing that the expectation at Madrid would be enormous and hitting the ground running was important.

Again, one could argue that going to arguably the biggest club in the world with one of the finest players ever (with an ego to match) already playing in your position might mean that you may have to be ready to be shoe horned in to the team wherever you can get a game.

Bale remains an extremely good player and he will get better - he is too good not to - for sure but for 100M Euros, far better performances are expected especially when you are playing Barcelona.

Whilst it wasn't a particularly outstanding game, the big players all showed up. For Real, Ronaldo was full of purpose if left very frustrated. For Barca, Messi eventually drifted out of the game but his presence on the pitch was still felt and Neymar who cost half what Bale did scored the opening goal and looked lively all night.

Bale looked hopelessly unfit and whilst it is Ancelotti (or Perez?) that chose to play an unfit player out of position at centre forward, Bale was a passenger until the oft maligned Karim Benzema replaced him and made a far greater impact immediately crashing a shot against the bar.

Of course it is unlikely that Ancelotti asked for Bale, it was a typical Perez move with little thought for the balance of the team and given the fee there was certainly huge pressure to play him last night.

Arsenal are revelling in the performances of Ozil who cost less than half his fee. Ozil provided the finesse to compliment Ronaldo's pace and power, without his assists Ronaldo is also finding things tougher.

Forwards in particular thrive from confidence and Bale's may start to wane especially with Madrid now off the pace in a league where any lost points can mean the end of your campaign prematurely. The white handkerchiefs can come out very quickly at the Bernabeau especially if they are lagging Barcelona which again they now are.

Ancelotti and Madrid need to quickly get Bale fit and find a system that gives him a platform to show off his immense talents. Bale of course did score in his first game and managed to win an iffy penalty at least the previous week. He needs to do far far more however if this is not to be a season to forget at Real.

Regardless it may be that it will be next season before Madrid really see the best of Bale as there are other issues such as language and a new country to settle into. It may take even longer if it proves he cannot play with Ronaldo, there should be no reason why it can't work but one would suspect that Ronaldo does not with to share the stage with anyone.

No one should blame Bale for chasing his dream and the ambition he has shown to prove himself abroad for arguably the world's biggest club is admirable. For that reason alone we wish him well - No Nonsense.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard - is Fergie right?

Much of Ferguson's book will have led to wailing and a gnashing of teeth, that is of course the whole point. Why else would you buy it if it was all nice and fuzzy.

What will have people on the Kings Road and at the Kop particularly agitated however is the assertion that Frank Lampard is 'not an elite International player' and Steven Gerrard is 'not a top top player'. This despite Ferguson expressing remorse at not signing either previously. So is he right or is he just selling books?

Firstly, for the purposes of this debate let me say I'm a Chelsea supporter and a huge Frank Lampard fan. Lampard is a Chelsea legend, many would argue their greatest ever player. But does that make him truly world class?

In a debate about Chelsea's greatest ever player for instance, a recent name that would pop up is Dennis Wise. A great servant and fan favourite yes but hardly world class.Wise of course played at a time when Chelsea moved from mid table to a top six team whereas Lampard has won leagues and European titles with Chelsea.

Being a fan favourite or even being voted your club's greatest ever player doesn't necessarily put you in the category of being world class either. We can take Ferguson's own ManU as an example. Ryan Giggs was recently voted ManU's greatest ever player and Cantona has won many polls also.

Was Giggs as talented as Ronaldo or Best? Was he as influential as Keane or Robson, did he score as many goals as Bobby Charlton? Yes he has won lots of medals but so has Gary Neville and he doesn't figure in the debate too widely.

For those who put Cantona at the top, was he remotely as good as Dennis Bergkamp? Did he ever do it in Europe on in a World Cup? What he did have were a couple of mercurial domestic seasons and was a swaggering maverick who stuck two fingers up to everyone, he was a cult (that's an 'l') footballer who the fans adored but again it doesn't make you world class.

Whilst this reasoning may seem to have little so far to do with the debate about Gerrard and Lampard, the point is to aim to remove the emotion from the debate and look at the players on their merits. We'll start with Lampard.

Lampard has been an incredible servant to Chelsea. He is possibly the most consistent Premiership player of his generation scoring bags of goals every season. He has a good range of passing, has missed few matches ever through injury and is rarely guilty of having a bad game.

On the flip side his play has been described as one dimensional (not by me I would add), he lacks pace, has not always excelled at International level and many of his goals are scuffed or are deflections and he takes the penalties and a few people used to call him fat - I wish I was that fat I can tell you.

Gerrard likewise has served Liverpool incredibly in which one CL win aside has been a pretty miserable period for the Reds. He has scored plenty of goals, has had some incredible inspirational performances in big matches and finals, has been hugely loyal and is an incredible dynamic presence within the team as well as being a natural leader.

Against this probably counts being injury prone, until recently having been inconsistent for his country and a lack of being able to do anything on the pitch other than at one hundred miles an hour.

As we have said, both will go down as legends and quite rightly so, their achievements are immense. The question is would you call them 'world class'?

As an example, Lampard has been more consistent than Gerrard and has won far more. Few (including me) would argue however against Gerrard at his peak being superior to Lampard. The extra pace and dynamism alone that he had made that difference.

Both however at their peaks - to me at least - would suffer by comparison to say Zinedine Zidane or even (and I hate to say it) Roy Keane at the peak of their own powers. Both those players were respectively the very best at what they did.

Does either player have the ability and skill that say Edgar Davids or a Clarence Seedorf did? Again probably not. Many would argue that Paul Scholes was vastly superior to either although that's a debate I personally think is a far closer one.

I was thinking of a greatest Chelsea eleven as an example and if you played 4-2-3-1 as is currently en vogue and you had Lampard as part of the '2', could you honestly say he was better than either Makelele or Ballack? At their respective peaks both were incredible players and gave wonderful balance to a team.

If by definition of being elite or world class, you give weight to consistency then both players deserve to be counted so, if however it is about pure ability then the argument becomes tougher.

Ryan Giggs for instance has achieved everything there is to achieve yet Marc Overmars at his peak was a far better player for me and Giggs never got close ever to having an entire season like Gareth Bale had last year. Would however either as of now be remembered favourably to Giggs? Bale of course has time on his side.

As I mentioned earlier, Michael Ballack for me had more ability than Lampard, possibly by a distance but who would Chelsea fans vote for, Lampard of course and probably so would I.

I would agree with Ferguson about Souness being better than Gerrard because Gerrard cannot dictate the pace and rhythm of a game in the way that a Souness could. Many or even most Liverpool fans would disagree however.

If the debate is were they as brilliant at the peak of their games as the Zidanes and Keanes then the answer is probably no.

If that means that they are not world class then I'm sure however a lot of Chelsea and Liverpool fans will settle for not having world class players - No Nonsense.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

World Cup Preview - Belgium, The Real Deal?

Belgium right now are the flavour of the moment. Their players are peppering the top leagues in Europe - mainly the Premiership - and they have qualified for the World Cup at a canter in a group where they were actually seeded second behind Croatia. Many are tipping them for big things in Brazil next year but we ask, are they really as good as the hype suggests?

Belgium it should be remembered has a proud footballing history despite a poor recent history. I grew up knowing players such as Jan Ceulemans, Frankie Van Der Elst, Eric Gerets, Preudhomme and then later the wonderfully talented Enzo Scifo, Phillipe Albert and  Luc Nilis.

Belgium pushed England all the way during their '90 semi final run and the likes of Anderlecht have a proud European club history.

After a lengthy hiatus, Belgium are back and with a team that looks hugely exciting and full of talent. We have of course been here with other nations and talks of a 'golden generation' can often be hugely overdone - especially if you follow England (which I don't).

Recent golden generations that have however succeeded are France (WC '98 and EC '00) and Spain (EC '08, WC '10, EC '12). They are big shoes for the Belgians to fill, especially as they seem to be coming from much further back than either of those nations.

Whilst many of the players look to be of genuine quality, they do of course lack any tournament experience and like all the European teams (more daunting one would guess for the Northern ones) they face the prospect of competing in South America where the Europeanas have never won.

Marc Wilmots gives experience and know how as coach but the question is, just how good are their players?

The goalkeeping position is currently held by Thiabaut Courtois, yet another Chelsea player out on loan and excelling at Atletico Madrid. Courtois was easily the best goalkeeper in Spain last season and offers security in that position.

As an aside, Chelsea will face a tough decision sooner rather than later whether to persevere with Petr Cech and risk losing Courtois or whether to possibly move the Chelsea legend on and make way for the hugely impressive youngster.

Simon Mignolet provides back up and good competition for a position where Belgium look well equipped.

The defence is possibly the area where there may be a weakness for the Belgians. Van Buyten is now 35 years old and Vermaelen has struggled at times for Arsenal after what looked a promising start to his career there.

Vertonghen has been solid for Spurs but he is far from the quickest and as yet, Toby Alderweireld is yet to play a game for his new club Atletico Madrid.

Vincent Kompany remains a rock at the heart of their defence however and his fitness will be a key factor for them at next year's WC. As with many uncompromising defenders, injuries are starting to take their toll and he has already missed a lot of football for his club this season.

Further forward however and you begin to realise what all the hype is about. Axel Witsel was hugely coveted by many clubs before ultimately plumping for the money on offer at Zenit. That choice however should not detract from his obvious quality.

Much has been written about Marouane Fellaini after his high profile move to ManU and whilst he has enjoyed an indifferent start, playing in the CL for the Reds will undoubtedly help him develop further. He remains a physically imposing presence in midfield if lacking a little mobility.

Both Steven Defour and Mousa Dembele serve up further cultured offerings in the centre of the park meaning that Belgium have a plethora of midfield options. It is further forwards yet however where people are starting to get really excited.

Eden Hazard's protracted courtship by several clubs the previous Summer ended when he finally plumped for Chelsea. Whilst not yet the finished article, Hazard is clearly a huge talent who looks to be capable of playing and influencing games in much the same way that Luis Figo once did. Belgium will be looking for big things for him in Brazil.

His Chelsea team mate Kevin De Bruyne is far rawer than Hazard despite being the same age. De Bruyne now needs to translate that potential into a more finished article.

Aston Villa's Christian Benteke offers a potent striking option for Belgium alongside Chelsea's on loan striker Romelu Lukaku. Both strikers are quick, strong and have a good eye for goal and will be a handful for any defenders this Summer.

The likes of Everton's Kevin Mirallas and Spurs Nacer Chadli again show the depth of talent that Belgium currently have, it is an impressive squad.

There seems little doubt that this is a Belgium team bulging with talent and potential. It does however look to be a team short of experience at the very sharpest end especially in the forward positions.

They will of course benefit from not carrying anything like the baggage that an England, an Italy or even the hosts Brazil this time will carry into the tournament and will not suffer the same fear factor.

Belgium currently occupy a top 8 World ranking position meaning that they could receive a favourable draw at the upcoming tournament. They should be well placed to qualify from their group and as everyone knows anything can happen in the knockout stages.

The very best, the likes of Germany, Spain, Brazil should however be too strong for the Belgians but a quarter or even a semi final showing could well be on the cards for a team that is going to continue to improve.

Whilst the World Cup could be a step too far for this fabulous generation of players, the Euros in France in 2016 could be a serious prospect for such a highly talented team.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Poyet the right man for the Stadium of Light?

Jobs in English football don't come much tougher than in the North East. A combination of a hugely loyal mainly working class (apologies for any stereotyping) fan base, excellent and often full stadiums and an insane amount of over expectation mean that the natives are regularly restless and more often than not are left hugely disappointed.

Middlesborough and Newcastle in particular have also been on huge roller coasters and images such as Juninho sat crying on the pitch after a Boro team containing he, Ravanelli and Emerson were relegated stick hugely in the mind, they also lost two cup finals that season.

Alan Shearer rejected ManU, joining Newcastle instead as they broke the transfer world record. He never won another trophy in his otherwise glittering career to add to the solitary one he won at Blackburn, but such is the loyalty these clubs garner. That Newcastle side of Lee, Ginola, Albert, Asprilla et all was a joy to behold but it was a fleeting passing.

Sunderland themselves are no strangers to disappointment. Eras such as that of Quinn and Phillips were failed to be built upon. Roy Keane looked to be the new Messaih on Wearside only for everyone to realise the only similarity was a big beard before he disappeared off to walk his dogs again.

Martin O'Neil looked a sound enough appointment for the Black Cats but again it didn't quite work out. Sunderland like their NE rivals suffer from a perennial identity crisis and lack of cohesive direction.

Newcastle and Sunderland in particular are huge institutions with huge crowds to match but everytime they place the bar higher they stumble and fall and invariably get relegated at some stage. It should not be the case.

O'Neil's reign came to an abrupt halt last season when the Sunderland management deemed theirs to be an irreversible slide and the shock therapy of the highly combustible Paolo Di Canio was seen as the required antidote.

Di Canio proved quickly what many believed him to be, a good coach but terrible man manager horribly out of his depth. Pampered superstars do not take well to being slapped around the head constantly and hauled in at 7am on Sunday mornings. It was never going to last.

Which leads us finally to the title of this piece, that of the appointment of Gustavo Poyet. Poyet of course was a hugely successful and popular player at Chelsea before going on to become a favourite at Spurs afterwards.

Poyet's coaching career kicked off alongside his ex Chelsea teammate Dennis Wise before a truncated spell back at Spurs alongside the ill fated Juande Ramos. It was at Brighton however where Poyet as a manager made his name.

Poyet's spell at Brighton was an excellent one before ending in acrimony after falling out with the chairman. In his time there he won promotion to the Championship at the first time of asking and pushed hard towards the Premiership, all the time playing good football.

For many Sunderland fans given the failed Di Canio experiment, the similarities may look too much to contemplate. Both were excellent Premiership players, both did well at a lower level in management and neither had or have Premiership experience.

The comparisons however should possibly stop there. Poyet after all whilst no shrinking violet is not as volatile as Di Canio and looks far more capable of compromise when required. He has received many awards from his piers, a sign that his methods are far more sustainable.

Many in the North East will be crying out for some good old fashioned British management, some grit and steel to sort out an under performing squad. That would possibly be all well and good were it an entire squad of Lee Cattermoles - but it is not.

The Sunderland board sanctioned a huge Di Canio and Roberto Di Fanti led Summer shopping spree meaning that the Black Cats' squad is one of the most cosmopolitan one in the league.

One must imagine that most of those players were signed with their technical ability in mind and therefore a coach with sound tactics and methods is the most pertinent appointment rather than an 'up and at 'em' approach.

It is hard to truly gauge the quality of the Sunderland squad given that so many of the new arrivals are an unknown quantity in terms of the Premiership.

Genuine quality did however leave in the shape of Mignolet and Sessegnon, the latter of which could prove an aberration by Di Canio and hugely representative of his ability to only deal in absolutes.

Poyet's job is of course a simple one, keep Sunderland up. Poyet it seems from his comments at Brighton is ambitious and should Sunderland be relegated even, his prospects there are far better in the Championship than they were with Brighton. Should he keep them up then the LMA awards may come calling again and his CV will have another gold star.

Given Sunderland's predicament it seems a choice that offers little to lose. If they go down they have a manager well versed in Championship football and with the promise of huge potential if they have got it right and they stay up.

Sunderland's folly was appointing Di Canio in the first place. He did keep them up but his record last season was also poor, he merely did less badly than a Wigan Athletic team hugely distracted by the FA Cup.

Sunderland however compounded this error by then re-assembling their squad presumably to his liking and then jettisoning him when that squad rebelled. Given that the stories coming out of Sunderland were of no surprise and sounded exactly the same as at Swindon, why appoint him in the first place? What they got is what they appointed.

Most or all of Sunderland's problems are of their own doing. Whilst Gustavo Poyet may seem like yet another high risk appointment, the reality is they are rock bottom of the Premiership with morale at an all time low. Hiring one of the brightest young coaches in football right now might not be the worst idea after all - No Nonsense.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Chelsea's first away win in the league

Chelsea fans won't be getting too excited by what should have been and ultimately was a fairly routine victory at Carrow Road against a very workmanlike Norwich City.

It was a performance with several short comings but it is the three points that matters and that is what the pragmatist Mourinho will ultimately care about.

Chelsea had taken an early lead through an excellent first time finish from Oscar after a lay off from Ba who had started brightly. After that the game settled into a fairly predictable pattern with only Oscar and Schurrle looking threatening occasionally for the Blues.

Yet again, Chelsea's centre forward - Demba Ba today - failed to find the net or look particularly like doing so, it is of course a problem that everyone is aware of and no one will have failed to notice that Romelu Lukaku notched again for Everton yesterday, this time against Manchester City.

Chelsea sloppily conceded a Norwich equaliser in the 2nd half although the Canaries' hard work and endeavour had possibly deserved something by that stage.

What is of concern for Chelsea fans is that the Chelsea central defence was again 'out muscled' for the goal. Chelsea's core strength was always the heart of their defence but Christian Benteke was also able to bully the defence physically early in the season.

David Luiz - the writer is a huge fan I would add - again showed some excellent anticipation and touches mixed with some typical over zealousness. He remains a rough diamond that Mourinho must surely polish. His talent is without question.

It is interesting that Luiz and Mata have attracted much of the criticism and doubt during Mourinho's early return but both have started the last two matches and it would be a surprise were they not to form part of his inner sanctum. Mourinho's psychology is already at work.

One of Mourinho's previous traits was his excellent use of substitutes and Mourinho duly utilised his strong looking bench supremely with two of his three substitutes scoring the goals that ultimately took the three points back to Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho's ability to alter the team's tactics and shape not relying on substituting like for like - Hazard replacing Cole and going to a three at the back system - was also reminiscent of his previous stint at the Bridge.

Chelsea broke quickly from a Norwich corner with Willian heading on to Oscar who's sublime first touch took him clear of the Norwich defender. His through ball to the on rushing Hazard was mis controlled by Norwich's last man allowing Hazard to fire in under John Ruddy who possibly should have done better.

Chelsea have always had a strong character under Mourinho and rather than sensing relief from the goal, Chelsea pushed on and via a slightly lucky break of the ball involving Samuel Eto'o, Willian curled in a sublime third to end the match as a contest.

The scoreline was possibly a little tough on Norwich although Chelsea had demonstrated a huge technical superiority over their hosts throughout the ninety minutes.

The Blues still have work to do and whilst it was not a hugely impressive performance, there were the first signs that Mourinho's will is starting to imprint itself on the team - No Nonsense.

Man of the Match - Oscar.