Thursday, February 6, 2014

Chelsea must back up their Etihad triumph

Newcastle's visit to Stamford Bridge on Saturday should be a routine win for the Blues. This is after all the team that so efficiently stopped the league's most potent attack in their 0-1 win at the Etihad whilst hitting the woodwork another three times.

Whilst Mourinho is publicly playing down Chelsea's title chances, that is of course a nonsense that everyone - including he - understands. Chelsea's squad is not exactly where he wants it to be but with his hand at the tiller it has enough quality to lift the title.

Chelsea are beginning to look more and more like a Mourinho team with Nemanda Matic finally giving Chelsea the physical presence in midfield that the Portuguese so always craves.

John Terry is rejuvenated and with Gary Cahill in the form of his life and David Luiz again showing up in midfield, Chelsea finally look to have the steel in central areas that usually defines his teams.

It is not quite Carvalho with Terry (at his peak) and Ballack or Makelele with Essien but it nevertheless very solid.

Collectively the team looks exactly that also with the players all working hard for each other. The sight of Willian and Hazard chasing back will be as pleasing to Mourinho as their lightning breaks and dribbles.

So as mentioned, Chelsea should beat Newcastle comfortably on Saturday and in that respect it should not represent a particularly important game, but it is.

Newcastle have in the past couple of seasons become a bit of bogey team for Chelsea winning three of their past four league meetings. The timing is also highly interesting.

Chelsea are flying after their result in Manchester and Newcastle are apparently on their knees after a humiliating Tyne Wear derby defeat compounded the loss of Johan Cabaye to PSG.

Chelsea struggled in their last home game against West Ham and it is imperative that Chelsea build momentum given the tight nature of the table.

Chelsea need to win to do just that and one would expect Mourinho to send out a strong and mainly unchanged team to face the Toon. The only exception probably being Oscar being brought back in to replace one of either Ramires, Luiz or Matic to give a more attacking balance again.

If Mourinho can continue to coax such performances from his players and find a way to get some goals from his strikers - an improving Samuel Eto'o looks the best bet right now - then Chelsea can go very close to the title this year.

Three points against Newcastle is a must - No Nonsense.