As Jose Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge tomorrow afternoon for the crunch Premier League fixture between Chelsea and Manchester United, he will do so knowing that anything less than a victory for the home side will effectively end their hopes of regaining their Premier League title.
There have even been reports today that a loss for The Blues could cost Antonio Conte his job.
When you throw in the fact that Mourinho seems to have fallen out with everybody at the London club, tomorrow’s game is set up to be a gritty encounter played out in a toxic atmosphere.
With Chelsea currently sitting nine and United five points off league leaders Manchester City, a draw does not really suit either side.
It could be said however, that a draw would be a worse result for Conte’s side than for Mourinho’s. If the game was to end honours even, Chelsea would potentially find themselves 11 points behind City. Which, judging by Guardiola’s side’s current form, would probably mean curtains for the London side’s title defence.
United on the other hand would be seven points behind the league leaders if the game ends in a draw and their noisy neighbours beat Arsenal at the Ethihad tomorrow, as most of us expect.
The Reds still have to face their city rivals home and away this season though meaning there is potentially more scope for them to recover any deficit no matter how daunting it may look due to the form of Guardiola’s side.
During Mourinho’s early days in the Premier League he was famed for nicking 1-0 wins or picking up draws away to his major rivals. However, it’s been a long time since we have heard the words “Jose masterclass” used to describe one of his sides’ away performances and in recent times it is the drab 0-0 draw that has become his specialty.
It would be a serious break from character for the Portuguese coach to go to Stamford Bridge and attack Chelsea, he will more than likely sit deep and attempt to hit Chelsea on the counter if the opportunity arises. At the very least, he will make sure his side is set up not to lose.
Mourinho has no qualms with talking a point away to his major rivals and in the past most fans would have accepted this but due to the all-or-nothing, 24/7 sensationalist nature of how Football is covered in the media these days, most fans won’t accept anything but a win and attacking football.
So the question is; if Jose is normally happy with a point away, but is also aware that stopping his former employers winning would kill their title defence, is he vindictive enough to do anything he can to stop Chelsea winning?
Yes, oh yes, he is, nobody does bitter quite like Jose. With the chance to get one over on his former side’s players, owner and manager, he will be drilling his team to do everything they can to make sure Chelsea suffer so we really shouldn’t be expecting much free-flowing football from his side tomorrow.
There is no doubt United’s manager will receive heavy criticism if he does go into tomorrow’s encounter with an ultra-defensive approach but he won’t care one bit, because as always with Mourinho, the chance to get one over his perceived enemies will be just too much for him to resist.
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