Mata or Oscar? – The Talk of the Town
Has November arrived already? The blip at the start of the season wasn’t expected at such an early stage of the season, if expected at all. The defeat against Everton away at Goodison and then an embarrassing defeat vs Basel in the Champions League at the Bridge has surely ended any last honeymoon moments for Jose. The ‘Happy One’ hasn’t had the most joyous start as he would have liked which has now put pressure on Jose, who would have thought!
The fans are divided, some holding on to the ‘In Jose We Trust’ or the ‘Jose Knows’ banner and then there are others who are growing frustrated with the striker problems and the lack of consistency from midfield, comparing Rafa with Jose and how this bunch of players was performing better under Rafa. Surely the fans were expecting better results from Chelsea and more entertaining football. The whole Jose Saga from Last season has set the bar of expectations so high that the fans are finding it hard to digest these early setbacks.
What’s the Mata Jose?
The blow that has been the hardest one to take has been the exclusion of Mata from the Starting XI with Oscar taking the spot behind the striker. With what I have seen so far does however justifies Oscar’s selection in the starting XI, he has been brilliant. Mata has been Chelsea’s best player over the past two seasons and has featured in almost every game, yet he struggles to break into the Starting XI and when he does play he isn’t where he left off last season. Injuries, lack of match practice or pressure? A bit of all of them, but to say that Mata is out of favor with Jose, I think that still is a bit premature to think. We can make assumptions all we want but we don’t really know the real story, so speculations are all we have.
Meanwhile on the pitch Oscar has Chelsea’s best player so far this season (in my opinion) and has put in good solid performances unlike last season where he was average for most parts. Yes he had those flashes of brilliance in the UCL but still a bit behind when it came to the league but this season deployed in the #10 role he has thrived and has been a revelation.
In my ideal Chelsea lineup however I would always prefer Mata to start behind the striker and Oscar in the pivot. Always believed he is the sort of player who belongs to the pivot, all he needs to do is muscle up for the English game. He is a sort of player who would press forward but at the same time track back and make tackles for the team. Oscar’s debut game in the Champions League vs Juventus last year, he didn’t only score two memorable goals but also marked Pirlo for most of the game nullifying his influence on the match.
The only reason I can think of starting Oscar ahead of Mata is that Oscar is more disciplined defensively than Mata and that’s what Jose looks from his team, a defending unit. With Mata playing as the player behind the striker takes that luxury away from the system Jose is trying to deploy.
Where would Mata fit in then? He is not a player for the wings, far from it. A proper #10 who likes to play in the center and if you play him on the wings we end up in a narrow midfield without any width which makes defending a lot easier. We saw in the game vs Aston Villa when Mata was playing on the right side. The narrow midfield made defending very easy as Villa built up numbers in center of the pitch and soaked up all the pressure without having being stretched from the wings.
The question now is the system really working for Chelsea under Jose? Chelsea is struggling to supply enough for our strikers who are struggling big time and becoming largely isolated from the midfield. We are absolutely packed with creative players with exceptional quality yet we fail to create enough, if we do then we don’t convert those chances.
We need to sort out our midfield woes first before we tackle the striker situation. Our strikers are not fed enough to be taking the entire blame, yes there are question marks but there has to be something that’s behind our misfiring strikers. If our individually creative midfield combines to create for the striker infront we might see better results.
Jose is rotating to find the right balance or the ‘more favored’ Starting XI for the season, but I won’t be surprised if we see a change in the formation. Jose is not afraid to try; we saw that in the game vs Everton in the second half. Surely he has got his thinking hat on and is going to find the right mix of winning and pretty football, just like the one Roman demands.
Jose in an interview after the Basel defeat pointed out:
“We are not scoring goals, that’s obvious. You can’t say we don’t score goals because we’re not an offensive team and don’t play offensive football and don’t have ball possession, because we [do] have an attacking mentality.
“I feel we are going in one direction, which is the direction we want to be to play a certain kind of football, but the reality is we are not scoring. But probably, if we play a defensive game and we just go on the counter-attack, probably we go there and score two or three goals.”
The hunt for the right balance between beautiful and winning football will continue it seems but there will be times where we will have to sacrifice beautiful football for wins and points because at the end of the day that’s what matters and with high expectations from the fans and media alike we are going to have some really tough choices to make.
Expecting a really strong response from Jose and Chelsea in the West London derby vs Fulham who haven’t won vs Chelsea in the league for a while, but do threaten a draw and have drawn four of the last seven games at the Bridge. A good game to bounce back, hope the lads will be all fired up and will steer Chelsea back to winning ways.
Up The Chels!
Make sure to let us know through comments what you think, we would appreciate your feedback. For more discussion follow me on twitter (@Hnk_89) and KTBFFH!