The supporters of Arsenal FC, in consoling themselves last weekend when they failed to defeat Chelsea FC at the EmirateS stadium in London, described Jose Mourinho’s rampaging, almost-certain winners of the EPL, as boring! I am confused. I may no longer know what the word means, and I don’t think I am alone is that state of mind! The statement already has sparked tons of debate around the football planet.
Which would you pick as boring – a team that plays conservatively but wins trophies and championships, or the one that plays flamboyantly, entertains the crowd but forgets how to win silverware?
To the fans of the Blues, that statement by Arsenal fans was the emotional outburst of people frustrated by their team’s failure to break the monotonous results of the encounters between the two great rivals in English football since Jose Mourinho became Manager of Chelsea.
With Mourinho in charge, Chelsea are yet to lose a single match against Arsenal in their 13 meetings since 2004. The table stands at 7 wins for Chelsea, and 6 draws. Chelsea have also scored 21 goals against Arsenal’s 6. The results tell their own clear and unambiguous story who the boring team is.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Arsenal fans feel the way they do. Unable to understand how Jose seems to have their number, they now tamely blame it all on Mourinho’s ‘colourless, defensive style’ that bores them so much the Arsenal players go to sleep and fail to score goals every time they meet.
Mourinho’s magic works consistently and that’s why he is probably the most successful coach in the world at the moment, with a massive CV, bulging with trophies and championships. In 14 years, the ‘Special One’ has won 2 Champions League trophies, 7 league titles (excluding the present EPL title) in 4 different countries and 10 other domestic competitions. It is an incredible record that could not be the product of anything ‘boring’.
Trust Jose to give it back to the Gunners and to his bitter rival, Arsene Wenger. Typically, he went for the jugular.
‘Boring’, he said, ‘is not winning anything in 10 years’, referring to Wenger’s almost 10-year drought without trophies!
That was a terrible below-the-belt punch that left everyone scrambling to check and verify the statistics again. Is it really true that the great Wenger, the Professor of football, the technical genius, only has the FA Cup of last season to show for the last 10 years in charge?
Unfortunately, the facts and figures speak volumes!
It is indeed a dismal record for a team that prides itself as the ‘Barcelona’ of English football, to be trying always to entertain fans with their young players and trademark possession football and not win trophies!
Arsenal FC are not your typical English football club in terms of how they play. They have been one of a few teams in the English Premiership that have tried to be different, and to deviate from the typical conservative British style of end-to-end, open play characterized by long high balls, endless running and physical duels that leave even the fans physically and mentally exhausted after most matches.
They, instead, play entertaining football with skillful individual expressiveness and ball possession, and a gradual build up with passes from defense to attack. Occasionally they remind you of FC Barcelona.
For historical purposes only, I believe it was Tottenham Hotspurs FC that started the process of adding some flair, style and colour to English football. After the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, won by the home team in a memorable encounter against Holland, the English Club shook the League and sensationally hired 2 of the Argentine players. It was a move that was unprecedented in English football. Osvaldo Ardilles and Ricardo Villa ignited the then league with their artistry, their ability to hold the ball, dribble past opponents and build attacks gradually from the midfield.
Not many teams have copied the Tottenham strategy even till this day, choosing to keep their well-established English football tradition that has made the Premiership the most exciting league in the world because of its openness, its physicality, its pace, strength and total unpredictability!
Arsenal FC have been one of the few exceptions to the rule. They, because of their proximity to, and deep rivalry with Tottenham Hotspurs hired Arsene Wenger in 1996, recruited several foreign players and started to play with panache and grace like their greatest rivals and neighbours, Tottenham Hotspurs.
A few others may have since then joined the train, including Manchester City FC!
The Gunners, under Arsene Wenger, became one of Europe’s most exciting teams to watch. Although their greatest achievement is limited to the European Cup winners Cup victory in the early 1980s it is surprising that they have never won the UEFA Champions League. That trophy still eludes both the team and their manager.
Can Mourinho’s Chelsea, with its armada of great foreign players, and a winning strategy and mentality that have succeeded time and time again, be truthfully described as boring? To me, Chelsea FC are a very interesting team to watch in their carefully choreographed strategy of frustrating opposing teams!
This season it has once again worked for the team well. And with Eden Hazard, they have one of the best and most exciting players not only in the Premiership but possibly in Europe.
Chelsea and Eden Hazard, with their ‘boring’ but winning style will be the next champions of the Premiership, and possibly of the Champions League in the not too distant future! If that is boring, I want more of it!
Who Will Win The UEFA Champions League?
I have not commented on the UEFA Champions League since it started.With only 4 teams now left in the championship, I can play safe now and take a pick of which team I think would win it. Even if I am eventually wrong, I would not be far off!
To start with, my thoughts on the semi-finals and final matches are quite simple and unfettered with technicalities. Coaching will have little to do with the final outcomes.Tactics and strategies will be easily neutralized by the close attention the players will pay to each other – no breathing spaces!
The matches will be very closely fought. Matches will be won by the individual brilliance or contributions of some of the key players. One mistake, one moment of momentary loss of concentration, one unlucky deflection, something like any of those, or one moment of magic will settle a match. That’s how tight the matches will be.
So, it is to the players that I turn my attention as I look into my crystal ball to see the team that will win the 2015 UEFA Champions League!
With Juventus, it is not clear to me just how strong they are this season. I have not been watching them closely. They crept into my consciousness only at the last minute, and defeating Monaco in the quarter-final was not such a big deal!
Against Real Madrid of course, they will be facing a very well known and formidable adversary. Their rivalry is a century old! The decisive factor in this encounter will be Real Madrid’s availability, or not, of their three regular front players- Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo! With any one of the three out of the game for any reason the sharpness is blunted and may not dislodge the usual well-organised and tight Italian defenses that Juve will undoubtedly bring to this match. The bad news for fans of Real Madrid is that one or two of the three forwards may be out of this game due to injury.If that is so, it will be game, set and match for Juve!
The other match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich seems more straightforward. Bayern would need to absorb the ceaseless onslaughts that would surely come from the rampaging trio of Messi, Neymar and Suarez and still come up with counter-attacking breaks of their own that will rattle the not-so-solid Barca defense.
The news is that all of Barca’s three strikers will be available for this match. That means trouble for Bayern. On the other hand one player who could have troubled the Barcelona defense the most all night, Arjen Robben, may be out of the match due to injury. With that situation alone, I see Barcelona winning the encounters home and away. Bayern may be loaded to the hilt with very experienced mostly German international players, but without Robben they lose the edge that could really make a difference. So, it all depends now on Arjen Robben!
All the matches will be nail-biters but somehow, Barcelona’s firepower upfront lights up my crystal ball.I see them adding yet another UEFA Champions League trophy to their bulging chest!