Ediale Kingsley is on this one. He did understood, before the match, that Jose Mourinho wasn’t going to lose or draw this game. On Saturday he tried his best to explain to all Chelsea’ fans why the Red Devils would carry the day. He also helped some punters fix up a bet arrangement that eventually paid off. Now that Mourinho has had his last laugh (for the moment) over Antonio Conte, National Daily pinpoints the strategies used in drowning the blues?
1. The gum-body ploy by the Portuguese:
Ander Herrera was asked to become Eden Hazard’s ‘shadow’ for this match. And you know what they say about trying to run away from your shadows. Let’s just say it wasn’t easy for Hazard to find his ‘bearing’. To find the Belgium playmaker, the Chelsea players had to start solving latitudes and longitudes (remember that maths subject? #GoogleIt). And with the way the blues kept fumbling with inaccurate passes and network plays, in attempts to find Hazard (they couldn’t make Hazard x and find x), it was pretty clear that they didn’t know their mathematics.
Herrera played attaching himself to Hazard. He wouldn’t let Hazard off his sight. This approach made the number 10 ineffective and as such crippled the blues game plan.
2. The 2-5-3 formation:
This worked as an antidote to that dreaded Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 lineup. Once a man in the midfield was assigned to erase the best man of the three Chelsea forwards, it limited his chances of going to assist or make those deft drives from the midfield. So the 4 midfielders of Chelsea remained 4. And for extra help in the midfield a defender could fall in. When they did fell in, the gap exposed in the defense allowed a much younger and agile Rashford to dash through and pick a goal.
3. Substitution tactics:
When Antonio blamed himself for the loss at the post match interview, I knew what he was talking about. It took 54 minutes for the Italian to realize Mourinho’s strategy. And so he quickly brought in a Fabregas, which was cool. But after waiting that long he ought to have brought in Fabregas and Willian at the same time. At 54 min Fabregas came in. Mourinho knowing the gimmick, brought Carrick almost immediately at 60th minute. Now the Chelsea boss sees that even the Fabregas card had a joker, he swiftly sent Willian in 6 mins later. And this quickly became the best period for Chelsea.
The pressure was now pumping in. Between that 66 – 75 mins, until Mourinho decided to release another weapon, Chelsea pressed and gum-body Herrera got a yellow card, Rojo also got one too.
75 min in, Mourinho decided to enter another military plan. He went into his arsenal and dusted out Zlatan Ibrahimovic. This made the Chelsea players give serious thought about flowing all the 10 players forward. A much more feared and respected striker was in the game. You would disrespect him at your own peril. So it was only at set pieces and corner kicks that Cahil and Luiz left their back duties. Even at that the pressure went the Chelsea way, and Fabregas got a yellow card for their worries at the 90th min. And a camera, around this time pans toward Jose Mourinho squatting to drink water, knowing very much, that the deed is done.