Football Expert & Columnist
Chelsea victory rather than performance what matters, say pundits
Experts say Blues are now champions-elect
Last Updated: 19/04/15 11:36am
Chelsea won’t care how they win games if it means lifting their first Premier League title in four years, say the Sky Sports pundits.
Jose Mourinho’s side beat Manchester United 1-0 on Saturday Night Football thanks to Eden Hazard’s winner, but the hosts only had 29.4 per cent of the possession as they ground out the result.
Chelsea’s win moves them 10 points clear at the top of the table, and wins in their next two games against Arsenal and Leicester would see them crowned champions in April – something Graeme Souness says was a matter of time.
“It was done before today,” he said. “That group of players wouldn’t [blow it] if they’d lost today.
“You’ve seen what they’re about today. They were far from being at their best; they had a game plan and they stuck to it.
“They’ve ended up having 30 per cent of possession playing in front of their own supporters – they would not have enjoyed it. But like all the best teams they find a way to win.
“Chelsea have a way of winning games when they’re not at their best, and that makes them very dangerous.”
Chelsea have won five of their last six Premier League games, with all of them coming by a single-goal margin.
Saturday evening’s 1-0 win follows their late victory by the same scoreline against QPR last Sunday, and Souness believes Chelsea’s tenacity comes down to Mourinho’s ability to get what he wants out of players.
“Where I think Mourinho scores above lots of other managers it he gets really good players, top players, to buy into playing a certain way and being disciplined,” he added.
“The end game is the all-important thing. They’re limping over the line but it won’t matter a jot because their name will be on the trophy at the end of the season.
“There’s a saying in football that if you win the league, you deserve to win the league. You’ve been the most consistent, generally scored the most and conceded the fewest goals.
“You couldn’t play like that every week at home, having 30% of the ball. The supporters just wouldn’t accept it. But it doesn’t really matter right now, in mid-April onwards.
“You’re out in front, you’ve played all your football, scored all your goals, done your entertaining, and now it’s down to business. Just get the points in the bag, thank you very much, on to next season and win it again.”
Jamie Redknapp stressed the same point on Saturday Night Football, and believes Mourinho will not be fazed by criticism of Chelsea’s game plan against Louis van Gaal’s side.
“[Mourinho] would say he’s earned the right to do that today,” he said.
“It’s not for the purists. I’m sure a lot of people at home or abroad will be saying ‘that’s not football’.
“What Jose would say is ‘I don’t care, I’m not here to entertain’. If you want entertainment today, go to the circus. He wants to win, and that’s exactly what he’s done.
“It was one of those performances where you just have to say you’ve ticked that one off. It's a massive three points for them, and they’ve won the league now.”