Blogs & Opinion

Jamie Carragher says Oscar's midfield tenacity makes him the key man for Jose Mourinho

Jamie Carragher - Jamie Carragher Posted 30th January 2014 view comments

Juan Mata's transfer to Manchester United has earned Chelsea a tidy sum but also shows how much faith Jose Mourinho has in Oscar.

Oscar has been one of Mourinho's mainstays this season in that No. 10 position, despite the fact Mata won Chelsea Players' Player of the Year at the end of the last campaign.

A lot of people questioned that and could not believe that Mata was on the bench a lot of the time but Mourinho, like so often before, has been proved right.

Oscar battles with Patrice Evra during Chelsea's recent win over Man United

Oscar battles with Patrice Evra during Chelsea's recent win over Man United

Mata is a fantastic player, don't get me wrong, and I'm sure he will show that at Old Trafford, but Oscar has already scored nine times this year in all competitions, assisted five goals, and had a huge impact on the way Chelsea play.

He is very good defensively, too, winning lots of tackles and retrieving Chelsea the ball in forward positions which, of course, makes it easy for them to create chances and I guess that's one of the reasons why Mourinho has preferred him to Mata.

He has been one of Chelsea's best players in the last month to six weeks.

Jamie Carragher on Willian
Quotes of the week


2008-2010: Sao Paulo
2012-present: Chelsea

I really like Oscar's tenacious streak and how he is not scared to get involved in the play as well.

He is very slight and defenders and holding midfielders probably lit up when they first saw him, thinking he would be easy to shove off the ball but that is not the case, as he showed in Chelsea's win over Liverpool when he got stuck into Lucas.

Foreign players have been accused of shirking or not being able to deal with the physical nature of English football but that's certainly not something you can say about Oscar, who doesn't just deal with it but seems to enjoy it.

When you've got the ability he's got - as we saw when he scored that wonderful free-kick against Stoke in the FA Cup on Sunday - and like the battle, that's a great cocktail.


I suppose Mata could have figured on the wing for Chelsea as Hazard has been used in a wider position to where he would perhaps prefer to be, but it's hard to argue that Willian and Andre Schurrle haven't made a big impact on the flanks.

Mourinho loves pace out wide, which he had with Arjen Robben and Damien Duff in his first spell at Chelsea, an at-his-best Samuel Eto'o at Inter Milan, and Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid, and he has maintained that view this year.

Willian and Schurrle have been very effective going forward but they also track back and I have been particularly impressed by Willian now that he has settled into English football.

Coming to the Premier League after spells in Brazil, Ukraine and Russia was always going to be hard for the lad initially, but the fact Liverpool and Tottenham also wanted to sign him shows how highly regarded he is.

He got a great goal against Norwich on his debut which would have settled some nerves and he has come along nicely since then to become a regular starter and one of the best players for Chelsea in the last month to six weeks.Chelsea are looking fantastic defensively as well now - they have kept seven clean sheets in their last nine games, and only let in late on against Man United and very early in that great game with Liverpool - and I think Gary Cahill deserves a lot of credit for that.

So Chelsea should be headed to the Etihad Stadium in a very confident frame of mind, not only are they in great form - although Wednesday's draw with West Ham will be a slight frustration - but they beat City earlier in the season.

They also got a point at Arsenal and, under Mourinho, are masters at going to difficult places and getting the result they need, so you wouldn't back against them doing it again on Monday night.

From City's perspective, though, this match gives them a chance to make a massive statement.

If they win they will be six points ahead of Chelsea with 14 games to go and that is a very decent lead especially for one racking up the goals and streamrolling teams like they are.

If Mourinho's team lose on Monday, they cannot afford any more slip-ups.

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Paul Merson

Merson's predictions

Paul Merson predicts the weekend scores and says Chelsea will only avoid defeat if Diego Costa plays....

Gary Neville

Neville - Step back for City

Gary Neville says Manchester City must learn to see games out if they are to win the Champions League....

Ed Chamberlin

Ed: City can make statement

Ed Chamberlin can't wait for Man City-Chelsea on Super Sunday and gives his early Ryder Cup tips....

Latest News RSS feeds

Everton brush aside Wolfsburg

Everton opened their Europa League Group H campaign with a convincing 4-1 win over Wolfsburg at Goodison Park.

Spurs secure Partizan point

Spurs were held to a goalless stalemate in their Europa League Group C opener against Partizan Belgrade.

Pochettino hits out at banner

Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino was angered by the "unacceptable" anti-Semitic banner displayed by Partizan fans.

Martinez delighted by big win

Roberto Martinez was delighted with Everton's display as they brushed aside Wolfsburg to win 4-1 in the Europa League.

Lampard reunion thrills Drogba

Chelsea's Didier Drogba is relishing meeting Frank Lampard on Sunday again, despite the midfielder playing for Man City.


Kevin Davies selects his five favourite footballers

Kevin Davies selects his five favourite footballers

We asked our football expert, former England international Kevin Davies, to name the his timeline of favourite footballers from boyhood idol to present day icon. Read on to find out his five selections...

Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa were Atletico Madrid team-mates but their routes to the top have been so different

Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa were Atletico Madrid team-mates but their routes to the top have been so different

With 64 goals between them last season, Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa are two of the game’s best strikers. Born just three months apart on opposite sides of the Argentina-Brazil border, they were even team-mates at Atletico Madrid. But the pair have taken very different routes to the top.

Champions League: Yaya Toure off the pace as Manchester City succumb to late goal against Bayern Munich

Champions League: Yaya Toure off the pace as Manchester City succumb to late goal against Bayern Munich

Vincent Kompany said earlier this week that Yaya Toure was "not far off" signing a new Manchester City deal; that's considerably closer than he got to any Bayern Munich midfielder on Wednesday night.