Sport Soccer

Saturday 24 March 2018

Mourinho: "It's not easy to defend"

Jose Mourinho has defended Chelsea's more strategic and less artistic tactics
Jose Mourinho has defended Chelsea's more strategic and less artistic tactics

Jose Mourinho has retaliated after Arsene Wenger questioned Chelsea's defensive tactics.

Mourinho's side lead Arsenal by 10 points and could take a significant step to winning the Premier League with victory at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The Blues boss has deployed a "more strategic, less artistic" approach in recent weeks, including in the 1-0 win at QPR when Cesc Fabregas scored with their only shot on target and last weekend's defeat of Manchester United, who dominated possession at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers said defensive coaching was not difficult after Chelsea's snatch-and-grab win at Anfield last season and Wenger, who has yet to beat one of Mourinho's teams in 12 attempts, repeated the barb ahead of this week's contest.

The Arsenal boss said: "It is easy to defend."

Mourinho said: "It's not easy. If it was easy, you wouldn't lose 3-1 at home to Monaco (in the Champions League last 16).

"If he defends well he draws 0-0 against Monaco and wins in Monte Carlo. It's not easy to prepare a team to defend."

Mourinho refused to budge from his view that Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City are in contention for the title until mathematically ruled out.

"I don't care about other things," Mourinho added.

"We are the best team since day one and we want to be the best team until the last day. But, mathematically, they can still be champions."

Mourinho cares little how Chelsea are judged if, or more likely when, they become champions.

"It matters what I feel, not what people feel, think or say," he said.

The change of the free-flowing attacking philosophy which had many observers purring earlier in the season was prompted by injuries and suspensions to key personnel, including Diego Costa, Fabregas and Nemanja Matic.

"We lost progressively the balance of our team," Mourinho added.

"When you lose crucial pieces, the team loses certain qualities.

"It (the switch in style) was just a consequence of things."

Mourinho insists his longer-term plan is to return to the more appealing way.

"I hope to start next season the same way we started this season," he said.

"This is the way we want to play, this is the way we played during the season, and the team we enjoy more.

"But it's (also) very enjoyable to deal with a difficult moment, to deal in a strategic way.

"When you are in the sea and have no boat, you need something to survive. A raft.

"In football, team spirit and team ethics and strategy is this."

Mourinho pointed to Andre Schurrle's goal in the opening game at Burnley as evidence for Chelsea's stylish side.

"We repeated that almost week after week," he said.

"If we manage to win the Premier League, we did everything right.

"Looking at where Chelsea were in the last four or five years, in terms of the Premier League, it means a lot. I think it's a great achievement for us."

Chelsea have not won the title since 2010, but won the Champions League "in the worst Premier League season Chelsea had had in the last decade", when they finished sixth in 2012.

Mourinho, who won the title in 2004 and 2005, is building a team for the next decade, with teenagers Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Dominic Solanke potentially core members of the squad.

Mourinho says it is important for the pair to stay at Chelsea, rather than go out on loan.

"When they are so young it's better for them to stay at Chelsea and develop at Chelsea," Mourinho said.

Chelsea have more than 20 players out on loan, with Mourinho admitting the strategy of owning talent is good for the Blues.

"It's not just about players to be ready for Chelsea, it's also about players with a market value and players that we use to raise funds to renew these players on loan, or to buy players ready for the first-team," he said.

Press Association

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport