Chelsea Making Push For Three Trophies With Mohamed Salah and Nemanja Matic Signings

Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah give Chelsea more midfield options and a deeper side than ever before. These are two players that fit perfectly into manager Jose Mourinho’s preferred style of play.

Matić has the potential to become remarkably influential in central midfield for Chelsea. At Benfica he showed great tactical flexibility and poise on the ball. Last season in Europe, the Serbian midfielder showed not only an ability to move the ball quickly and with precision, but also to defend well and provide extra physical cover for the back line, seamlessly slotting into a defensive posture when necessity required it. He is comfortable both in a box-to-box role and as a withdrawn midfielder. When playing in a withdrawn role, Matić not only serves as cover for the back four but also an effective deep lying playmaker. He can play the types of diagonal balls Jose Mourinho wants to see more of from his holding midfielders.

Salah is a player that has impressed against Chelsea, scoring three times in four 2013 appearances against the Blues in European competition. A pacey winger who can also be deployed up top in a “false 9” scenario, he offers Mourinho an alternative to the disappointing André Schürrle. The work rate of the German as well as his counter-attacking ability, which was on full display on several occasions last season for Leverkusen, has been inconsistent at best since signing with the Blues. In recent matches Willian has been preferred to Schürrle and the signing of Salah might send the German further down the squad list.

When these two buys are coupled with the sales of Kevin De Bruyne and Juan Mata, the Chelsea midfield has been quickly overhauled by Mourinho. This gives the Manager the confidence to field players who buy into his philosophy in each of the three competitions the Blues remain active in.

Chelsea now have the ability to counter-attack far more quickly than they did with the squad Mourinho inherited, as well playing longer balls from deeper midfield positions. The manager has acknowledged the Chelsea team he inherited won trophies playing a different way than his original Chelsea side did from 2004 to 2007. However his moves since returning to Stamford Bridge beginning with the summer signings of Schürrle, the now-injured Marco van Ginkel and Willian indicated a change in Chelsea’s style. The January window has made it clearer where Mourinho is going with this side.

For more Chelsea coverage, read the Chelsea team page for news, analysis and opinion.

4 thoughts on “Chelsea Making Push For Three Trophies With Mohamed Salah and Nemanja Matic Signings”

  1. I hope City will be willing to spend whatever it takes to beat Chelsea. It will be hard because Chelsea have bought so much young talent, with or without the loud-mouth thug, they were going to be very good this season, and for many seasons to come. Smart of them to rack up all of this young talent before ffp comes into effect.

    1. Yes, City will. Note the very top end prospects under 18 that they have beaten everyone in the world to (Faour, more or less the entire Nigerian U17 world cup winning team, etc.)

      Also note the Deloitte money league numbers now out and City has leapfrogged Chelsea and into second in the EPL. Gaining very rapidly on the cash-poor mid-table debt cowboys of Trafford.

      I have liked the absolute hell out of Salah for three years. Great player, but Chelsea may want to loan him to a Prem team this year like City did with Guidetti.

  2. There ya go, Kartik! Enjoyed this Chelsea article much more than the last one. Lots of good points made. The (heartbreaking) release of Mata and signing of Salah is a perfect microcosm for the tactical shift Mourinho is implementing. I’d be cautious about labeling it as counter-attacking though. Sans a few exceptions, We don’t typically hunker in to soak up pressure and counter. I think labeling it a more ‘direct’ style would be more apt. Earlier in the season we struggled to break down compact teams. Pacey, skilled players like Hazard/Willian/Salah are the answer; hence our current set up.

    Anyone who knows Mourinho understands he is a man of systems. He’s never been a manager to build around a single player, nor has he ever compromised his tactical philosophies to suit a single individual. I think Mata leaving showcases that perfectly.

    Great read!

  3. Mourinho truly is the master of the dark arts. His transformation of an already strong Chelsea team in such a short time is outstanding.

    I personally wonder how he handles JT, Lapmard and Ashley Cole leaving. Mourinho was the one manager who could transition the club while maintaining and building on success.

    I personally don’t think City can overtake Chelsea but stranger things have happened (fingers crossed).

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