Jose Mourinho’s second act at Chelsea is starting very much where his first left off with the manager’s comments becoming more a caricature of himself than anything deep and thoughtful. While I felt the almost universal skepticism in the British press upon the return of The Special One to Chelsea was out of place, I am beginning to see precisely why some well-respected writers had doubts about Jose Act II. Mourinho’s arrogance has never been in question but it appears he is beginning to engage in a certain amount of self-delusion about his side. Jose is a brilliant and talented manager of footballers and egos. But the biggest ego is that of Mourinho himself. Juan Mata’s continued omission from the squad defies all reasonable logic as does the manager’s unwillingness to be ever questioned by the media on his tactics or squad selection.
Liverpool’s crisp passing, fluid movement, strong defensive shape and spacing on the pitch indicate Brendan Rodgers has gotten a strong “buy in” from the players to his system. It is early and I am not ready to anoint LFC a title contender just yet, but you can do more with less talent on paper when the understanding between teammates is as good as Liverpool’s appears to be at this early stage of the season. Missing out on Henrikh Mkhitaryan was the only setback thus far this summer for Liverpool as they have bought well and not conceded yet in Premier League play. As for Mkhitaryan, his stellar play has shot Dortmund past Bayern atop the Bundesliga table.
Chelsea should have learned a harsh lesson two years ago when they foolishly loaned Yossi Benayoun to Arsenal and saw the Gunners finish three places above them in the table with the Israeli playing a key role in the run in. Now the Blues have done it again loaning Victor Moses, a potential game changing winger, to Liverpool. Loaning out players surplus to requirement is fine but loaning players out to teams competing with you in the table is madness.
Arsenal is a title contender if fitness can be maintained at a higher rate than the past two seasons. I see fewer weaknesses in Arsenal’s ideal first XI than I do in any other squad. But then again the side lacks the clear difference maker that Manchester United has with RVP and Chelsea has — multiple players. The Gunners difficulty with finding a ball winner in midfield may have been solved with the signing of Mathieu Flamini, who like many Arsenal players has a history of injuries. Now Arsene Wenger must address the lack depth particularly on the back line and at the striker position.