“That is not the best league in world football; this is football from the 19th century. Is it acceptable?” asked Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, betraying the frustration of his side’s 0-0 draw at home to West Ham. Last night in the Premier League, Chelsea hosted West Ham in a game that offered the Blues the chance to leap frog Arsenal into second place, only a point behind Manchester City. Over the course of the game they absolutely annihilated West Ham and yet the game finished goalless as the chance to narrow the gap at the top evaporated.
After the game Jose Mourinho tore into West Ham’s performance. He commented ‘What do I mean about 19th-century football? Pretending injuries. Cheating, but I don’t know if that’s the right word. The goalkeeper taking his time, not after minute 70, but in the first minute. Ten defenders in the box. Very basic. It’s very difficult to play a football match where only one team wants to play. I told Big Sam (Allardyce). They need the points but because they need points, to come here and not play and do it the way they did . . . is it acceptable? Maybe yes. I cannot be too critical because if I was in this position, I don’t know, would I do the same? Maybe I would. But at the same time, this is not Premier League (football). The only thing I could use was a Black and Decker to destroy their wall.’
But would Mourinho have done the same thing as Sam Allardyce if he was in a similar position? We decided to find out and as it happens, he has been in that position before. Towards the end of December, Chelsea visited Arsenal. A win would have moved Chelsea into second place, with a loss leaving them 5 points off the top. Whilst he stated after the game that he was happy with the point, he did claim about Arsenal that “I think boring is a team that plays at home and cannot score a goal. That’s boring. Because you go to your stadium and you fill your stadium, in weather like we had on Monday, to see victories…”
As can be seen from the tables below, in the game against Arsenal, Mourinho certainly played more defensively with Arsenal enjoying the bulk of possession and attacking actions.
Whilst Chelsea may not have been playing the ’19th Century’ football employed by West Ham, they certainly did not go out to win that game. The Gunners were acknowledged to be the better team and this may have influenced Mourinho’s comment that the home side is always expected to win.
Is Mourinho a hypocrite? The same could be said of his side in last night’s game. Whilst it is clear that West Ham parked the bus for 90 minutes, Chelsea had their chances and the Hammers cannot be blamed for the home side’s profligacy in front of goal. With two days left in the transfer window, Mourinho might want to think about adding another striker to his ranks.
He also claimed that West Ham had wasted a lot of time during the match. During the game, the ball was only in play for 55 minutes and 12 seconds, which is significantly lower than the league of average of 59 minutes and 28 seconds. Also the fact that West Ham’s Live Ball Possession was that significantly lower that their Total Ball Possession shows that they did indeed waste time. It is interesting to note, however, that Mourinho did not have the same complaints after the Arsenal game, where the ball was only in play for 56 minutes and 41 seconds!
Chelsea’s next game will be against high flying Manchester City at the Etihad where Mourinho’s credentials as a ‘bus parker’ will be tested again. City have won all eleven games there this season, scoring an incredible 42 goals and only conceding 8 goals. Will Mourinho be parking the Blue bus in front of Petr Cech’s goal and play ’19th century’ football and risk falling even further behind in the championship race or do they throw caution to the wind and try stopping the Sky Blue machine in its tracks?
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