Arsenal supporters chanted “boring, boring Chelsea” as the Blues celebrated on the pitch after a 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday that all but clinched a Premier League title.
Chelsea, 10 points clear at the top of the table, wanted to make sure the advantage didn’t dwindle to seven. Blues manager Jose Mourinho came up with a plan to make that happen.
He decided to start an away match, against the in-form club in the Premier League, without a recognizable striker. Oscar, filling in for the injured Diego Costa and Loic Remy, held his own and should have earned at least one penalty decision early on had another referee been in charge of the match.
The key, of course, was that there were no injuries to the defense, one Arsenal hasn’t scored against since January of 2013. It also probably helped that Mourinho had never lost to Arsene Wenger in 12 previous games prior to Sunday.
What every Gunners fan chanting “boring, boring Chelsea” should accept, if not respect, is that when it comes to facing a top Premier League side, Jose Mourinho seems to channel former Arsenal manager George Graham.
Graham’s teams were often serenaded with “boring, boring Arsenal” chants from rival fans. Mourinho calls it “parking the bus” and while Chelsea didn’t just defend during this game, there was no doubt that once again the Blues played a much more conservative style when facing a top five team.
In seven league games this season against the two Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Arsenal, Chelsea has scored only eight goals while conceding four.
More importantly, the Blues are unbeaten in those games, winning three and drawing four. (Liverpool travels to Stamford Bridge next month.)
But like many of Graham’s Arsenal teams of old, Mourinho’s Chelsea can and do score goals.
Look back at the beginning of this season. In the first four games against lesser opposition, Chelsea scored 15 goals while allowing six.
All told, in the 26 league games not involving the top five clubs, the Blues have tallied 57 goals while allowing 22.
In fact, Chelsea’s total of 65 league goals this season is second behind only Manchester City’s 70 and two more than Arsenal. Only Southampton can match the Blues’ 26 goals conceded.
Second in goals scored and tied for fewest goals conceded. That sounds familiar.
Arsenal won the old First Division title twice under Graham. In 1989, they were first in goals scored and third in goals conceded. In 1991, the club finished second in goals scored and gave up only 18 goals in 38 games to lead in that category.