Thursday, January 30, 2014

Does Mourinho stick or twist on Monday?

Many pundit's assertions that games are 'title deciders' whilst we're barely into February are usually a load of old codswallop but Chelsea's match at the Etihad has taken on a sense of urgency after the dropped points at home to West Ham on Wednesday.

Had Chelsea won and tucked in a point behind City whilst opening up a six point gap from the top three to the rest then Monday's fixture would have been no less crucial.

Now however it takes on the form of a game that Chelsea can ill afford to lose, six points behind a rampant City would be already tough and Liverpool would be able to close back up to one point only.

Mourinho of course will not be fazed ahead of the fixture, he has gone to places such as the Nou Camp and Old Trafford before and won against the odds. The question of course is what tactics he employs.

Mourinho's successes in these types of games have usually been born out of defending deep and hitting quickly on the break and there is no doubt that Chelsea under Mourinho are equipped to do this.

Chelsea this season have secured draws at the Emirates and Old Trafford playing drab unattractive football - Mourinho cares not a jot - and the back line is still completely intact that won the Champions League with a series of heroic rearguard actions.

Nemanda Matic also adds another level of shielding for some of the older legs in that Chelsea backline.

Many Chelsea fans will call for them to be bold given the array of attacking options crowned by the likes of Oscar and Hazard. It is however unlikely that Mourinho will trust to such tactics.

Memories of heavy defeats like the the 5-0 hammering he suffered at the Nou Camp with Real Madrid will still sit firmly in his behind.

Mourinho's career has been defined by pragmatism and it is unlikely he will revert from type against arguably Europe's most potent attacking force.

City's back line is possibly their Achilles heel and in that sense, Chelsea would be well served to attack but City will go into the match full of confidence. Their attitude right now is we'll simply score more goals than you will much the same as Barca under Guardiola.

It will be a long night one suspects for Chelsea fans but that is not to say that they cannot emerge satisfied with a point or even nick a 0-1, such has been the resilience forged under Mourinho teams.

City will however be going into the game as firm favourites - they were unfortunate at the Bridge earlier this season - and will fully expect to win. The big winners on the night may end up being Arsenal - No Nonsense.