Chelsea fans who voted en masse to make Juan Mata their double Player of the Year during his two seasons at the club aren’t the only people in football feeling hazy about Manchester United’s seemingly successful £37m swoop for the Spaniard.
However, while the Stamford Bridge faithful may mourn the loss of a supremely talented individual to a Premier League rival, Jose Mourinho’s transfer business since he returned as boss suggests the Special One is finally ready to settle down in west London.
To matters first at hand, the Portuguese will have revenge on his mind ahead of Chelsea’s FA Cup fourth-round clash at home to Stoke, having gone down 3-2 on the Potters’ patch in the league 11 games ago.
They’ve stepped up a couple of gears since, winning nine times in all competitions including each of their five home games and are 1/4 to beat Stoke, while Mark Hughes’ men are 10/1 for an unlikely victory with the draw 5/1.
Having won their last six, with four of those triumphs coming without the concession of a goal, and considering the Potters have only tasted victory twice since beating the Blues, the eye-catching wager for this FA Cup clash looks to be the 1/1 about the hosts bagging a win to nil.
They’ll have to do it without fans’ favourite Mata, but Mourinho has been gradually working to bring in bodies he feels compliment the players he inherited over the summer.
Basel’s Mohamed Salah looks on the verge of becoming the latest talent injection into a squad that’s been boosted by Andre Schurrle, Nemanja Matic and Willian since June.
Mourinho clearly couldn’t guarantee Mata game-time, and with Brazil regular Oscar and Belgian wizard Eden Hazard pleasing their gaffer in two of the three attacking midfield positions behind a main striker, it’s hard to blame the 50-year-old for having the courage of his convictions.
The former Real Madrid youth’s signing will boost Man Utd’s ailing top-four challenge, but the Red Devils’ squad is set for a massive overhaul and they could be facing a number of years out of the title reckoning.
Meanwhile, with Financial Fair Play penalties continually threatened, Chelsea are about to recoup around 90 per cent of the cost of Matic and Schurrle combined by selling a player that doesn’t fit into their most successful ever coach’s tried and tested system.
A striker of the calibre of Diego Costa and Jackson Martinez will surely be sought in the summer, but with the Mourinho machine looking ominous the 2/1 about Chelsea topping the table this term, as they did in the Special One’s previous first season in charge, smacks of value in the Premier League outright market.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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