The Mou Factor in the EPL Title Race

Over the past season or two, there has been one factor or another which swings the title in favour of teams. Last season, Manchester United signed goal scoring machine Robin van Persie from rivals Arsenal and that helped Sir Alex Ferguson’s team recover their lost title in 2012 on goal difference from their noisy neighbours. Many would argue including me that RVP was the main reason for the Red Devils 20th title; I believe it was The Sir Alex Ferguson factor. The willy old Scot stretched many of his average and tired legs to reclaim the golden prize in English football before he stepping down. Nine months on, Man Utd look a distant team from the side who coasted home last season.

safOn the 2nd of September 2013, something special happened at the Emirates stadium in London, a young looking Turk, Germany international put pen to paper for Arsenal Football Club for a club record fee of over £40m from Real Madrid. His name Mesut Ozil. Prior to his move, Arsenal had struggled to make any significant acquisition all summer and was starting their ninth campaign with no silverware. Matters were made worse with a disastrous 1-3 home loss to Aston Villa on day one of this season. Perhaps, Ozil was the missing factor in Arsene Wenger puzzle, from the word go, the former Real Madrid playmaker settled in perfectly, ignited the team and fans with renewed enthusiasm and belief for the season. This feeling was called The Ozil-factor! This factor took Arsenal on a long unbeaten run in the league and has been significant as the Gunners mount a firm title challenge this season. The Gelsenkirchen born midfielder may not be in his best element at the moment but his arrival at the Emirates changed the mood and belief.

mo, awAcross town in west London, fans favourite Jose Mourinho returned to his beloved Chelsea for his second stint and realized the significant changes in England, there are more title rivals and European places contenders. His return to Chelsea also boosted the Blues and brought about their own belief in  the factor syndrome called the Mou-factor!  With FFP in sight, Chelsea open cheque policy of his first spell has been restricted. The Happy One struggled to land any of his preferred targets and had to settle for available ones. In the first few months, his Chelsea team had an almost predictable playing format or 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 but his playing personnel were rotated. Indifferent results, lack of goals, shaky defence characterized those periods and to sum it up, Juan Mata (Chelsea player of year 2011/12 and 12/13 seasons) did not feature in his plan as a starter. Mata’s exclusion continued to surprise many and at some stage during the season; I presumed the Happy One was gradually becoming the Confused One. One of the unique attributes of Mourinho is his ability to prepare his team physically and mentally for the big games. He’s a master strategist and has horn his skill in this area to great effect. Two games in which the Mou effect has played out well with expected result this season; In the game against Liverpool last December, Chelsea went a goal down early in the game but his team responded with power, took the game to their opponents, wore them down on the flanks and finish off their chances while silencing predator Luis Suarez. His ability to shut down his opponent key players has been successful.

jmLast night, Mou pulled off another master stroke against a formidable opponent who have turned the Etihad to a slaughter ground for all visiting opponents with top sides like Arsenal, Tottenham and Man Utd falling there. It was expected that Chelsea were going to be very cautious which was clear from the line up but the Portuguese tactician had other ideas. His team won the midfield battle against Yaya Toure who was left to fight the war alone, there wasn’t sufficient service to the forward line and for the entire first stanza, it was difficult to believe that the beast of Vallecas – Alvaro Negredo was on the pitch. The Blues shut them out very well, commander Terry and his vice Cahill were excellent at the back while they counterattacked effectively. The game was won and lost on the bench as the Special/Happy One out thought his Engineer rival. In all, Mourinho has his master plan well designed regarding matches against title rivals but his team’s inconsistency against the lower sides could prove to be costly.

Chelsea has the bragging rights and confidence at the moment but must realize that not every team would contain City as they did last night. City has shown title credentials since their away form improved and should not be too concerned about their loss to a formidable side. Arsenal is currently on top of the log but must remember that they have a trip to Stamford Bridge and will host Man City at the Emirates where they lost to the Citizens last time out.

The opera of a two-and-a-half horse race just got even more intriguing.

Do you think Mou’s factor will sing it Chelsea’s way?

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Glad you were able to post a new article, thought you’ve moved. I hope you can write more articles about EPL. Keep us posted, cheers!

    Reply

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