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Chelsea players deserve more blame and other Premier League talking points

Also, David Silva’s brilliance and Wilfried Zaha’s re-emergence.

(From left to right) The Chelsea defensive line of Radamel Falcao, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge.
(From left to right) The Chelsea defensive line of Radamel Falcao, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge.
Image: Jed Leicester

1. Mourinho has made mistakes, but players shouldn’t escape blame

JOSE MOURINHO RARELY neglects an opportunity to remind people how many Champions League titles and domestic trophies he has won, and generally tends to take plenty of credit for his team’s achievements.

Consequently, some people will be less than sympathetic about the disproportionate amount of blame he seems to be receiving for his team’s current failings.

Following today’s 3-1 loss against Southampton — their third league defeat ever at Stamford Bridge under Mourinho but second this season — they have lost four and drawn two of their eight games this season, consigning them to their lowly current position of 16th in the table.

The manager’s treatment of Eva Caneiro was appalling while he has undoubtedly made some bad decisions in his team selections to boot, with the substitution of substitute Nemanja Matic his latest eccentric call.

However, while Mourinho is far from blameless, the same can be said of his players. For a group of top-level professional footballers to conspicuously underperform on such a regular basis during the campaign reflects poorly on the character of several of the individuals at the club — after all, the coach can hardly physically make Ivanovic play better or stop John Terry making rash decisions.

2. Man City a different team without David Silva

Man City recovered from two league losses on the bounce to secure an emphatic 6-1 victory over Newcastle today.

And while Sergio Aguero’s return to form will inevitably dominate the headlines after the Argentine striker managed a Robert Lewandowski-esque five goals in 20 minutes, the role of another player in their title charge this season should not be underestimated.

It is hardly a complete coincidence that the recent losses against Tottenham and West Ham occurred when David Silva was absent from the side.

The Spanish international is a fundamental part of the City team and the club invariably look a level below their best without the little magician, while they appeared much more confident as a unit upon the 29-year-old’s domestic return today.

And with the likes of Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas out of sorts, Silva could justifiably lay claim to being the best creative midfielder in the league currently, with only Man United’s Juan Mata rivalling his level of performance.

3. Newcastle & Sunderland jobs a poisoned chalice

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Sunderland v West Ham United - Stadium of Light Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Recent reports suggest Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat is set to quit the club and you could hardly blame the Dutch coach on the basis of recent performances.

The Black Cats lie second from bottom on three points, and while there were signs of life in today’s match against West Ham, their winless league run ultimately continued, as they failed to hold onto a 2-0 lead, with ill-discipline and individual errors again contributing to their problems.

The situation at Newcastle looks similarly dire, with boss Steven McClaren questioning the team’s desire after a humiliating 6-1 loss to Manchester City.

With both Northern clubs occupying the bottom two relegation spots currently, McClaren and Advocaat’s jobs are bound to come under threat over the course of the international break.

As Gary Neville and others have pointed out, these clubs are finding it increasingly difficult to persuade top players to sign, which partially explains the patent lack of quality within their ranks.

And if they do choose to sack Messrs Advocaat and McClaren, it’s hard to imagine a queue of coaches lining up to replace them, with the Sunderland job in particular increasingly gaining a reputation as a poisoned chalice.

4. Zaha starting to fulfil his potential

Wilfried Zaha looked set for stardom after Man United paid a reported £10m rising to £15m to prise the youngster away from Crystal Palace.

However, Zaha barely got a look in amid the gloom of the David Moyes era, and his progress was halted as a result.

After leaving Man United, some critics would have expected Zaha to promptly fade into obscurity, as often happens with much-hyped youngsters after they leave the Red Devils.

Yet it says much about the man-management skills of Alan Pardew as well as the player’s own level of resilience that he seems to have recovered admirably from this substantial setback to his career.

Zaha’s recent form is one reason why Crystal Palace currently sit third in the league, and against West Brom in particular today, the 22-year-old winger was outstanding, regularly posing a threat and taking the responsibility of being his team’s chief creative outlet, winning the penalty for their second goal to boot in a man-of-the-match performance.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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