By: Alex Greenberg
Jose Mourinho is widely considered to be one of the best coaches in world football. Last year he led Chelsea, one of the richest clubs in world football, to the Premier League and League Cup titles. Not only did they win the league, but they won it with ease. It feels like an eternity has passed since then.
Yesterday, Mourinho was fired by the boys in blue. Chelsea sit in 16th, just a point above the dreaded relegation zone. Even the most imaginative script writer couldn’t have dreamt this up. The Blues lost for the ninth time this season on Monday when Leicester City beat them 2-1. The Chelsea team that played at the King Power Stadium looked nothing like the team that had torn up England just the year before. They almost seemed consigned to the fact that they were having a bad season. The players lacked motivation and it showed in every aspect of the game.
The temperature of Mourinho’s seat on the bench has never been hotter before he was sacked, but realistically this is not a game Chelsea were supposed to win. It can no longer be considered an anomaly that Leicester are good and Chelsea are crap. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez showed that they were too good for the aging Chelsea defense. The two Leicester goals were so well taken that you couldn’t expect any team in the league to have stopped them.
It felt surreal after the loss to Leicester to hear Mourinho say in his post game interview that “surely” Chelsea’s chances of finishing in the top four had gone. It was almost like I didn’t believe it was actually happening until I heard “The Special One” say it himself.
But now, this daunting tast of turning around this Chelsea team will not be in the hands of Mourinho, who is currently searching for a new club to manage.
Tottenham are one of the squads hoping that Chelsea’s tumble down the table will be the opening they need to qualify for next year’s Champions League. Coming into last weekend Spurs hadn’t lost since the opening day of the season, but their unbeaten streak was losing its luster due to some disappointing draws.
Spurs took on a Newcastle side that was coming off a victory against Liverpool, their most impressive result of the season. Last year’s scoreline of 2-1 in this fixture was repeated as Newcastle won again at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham dominated the first half, but could only muster one goal through Eric Dier. The second half saw Newcastle grow into the game and begin to dominate the midfield. Spurs conceded twice in the final 15 minutes, including late in stoppage time, for another frustrating loss to the Magpies, who moved out of the relegation zone with the win.
In a season that is proving to be their best chance at the Champions League since Gareth Bale played in North London, Spurs can’t afford to lose to teams like Newcastle at home. The dominance in the first half is encouraging, but as has been a fatal flaw too often this season Spurs failed to capitalize on that dominance.
Elsewhere Manchester United lost to Bournemouth as both teams continued their trends downward and upward respectively. Bournemouth now find themselves outside the relegation zone, while United find themselves clinging onto the edge of the top four.
The Cherries continue to show tremendous fight. They’ve got the smallest budget and stadium in the Premier League, and they’ve already suffered some key injuries, but they are showing signs that they can avoid relegation. Eddie Howe’s men refuse to play like a traditional small team, packing it in and attacking on the counter. Everyone except their direct rivals for relegation should be rooting for them to stay up.
The season is not even halfway over yet, but the relegation picture is already taking shape. Aston Villa are doomed barring a miraculous turn around the likes of which the Premiership has never seen. If I had to pick right now, I’d say Norwich and Sunderland will be joining them.
It’s probably impossible for Chelsea to be relegated. They’ll spend a lot of money during the January transfer window and have too much quality to finish so low. But if they did somehow get relegated it would be one of the most shocking stories English football has ever seen.
Once again the best match of next week’s action is the Monday game. Manchester City come to London to face Arsenal at the Emirates. It’s unclear whether Captain Vincent Kompany will be back for City, but they will have Sergio Aguero available after his return from injury. If Kompany plays, Man City should be able to keep their heads defensively. But if the big Belgian misses out again I’ve got no confidence in the Citizens keeping the Arsenal attack under control.
Arsenal are going to win handily, and I’m not going to be happy about it.