It may have been portrayed in the press this week as an underwhelming return to Stamford Bridge so far for Jose Mourinho, but following a 2-0 victory over Fulham on Saturday, the crucial fact is that Chelsea are top of the Premier League, and are 11/5 favourites to win it.
A shock home defeat to Basle may have bristled, but few doubt that the Blues won’t still make it through their Champions League group.
Given their league position then, it may seem somewhat unreasonable to question the selection policy of the man in charge, but Mourinho’s omission of midfielder Juan Mata continues to perplex the Chelsea fans who voted him as the club’s Player of the Season last year.
Mata has played just 80 minutes in a Blue shirt this season, and just this week Mourinho insisted that Brazilian Oscar was his preferred “number 10”, and that Mata would have to “fight and work for his opportunities” after failing to impress the new boss so far.
It represents a drastic change in fortunes for the Spanish international, who was undoubtedly the first player on the teamsheet under previous gaffer Rafa Benitez, who in turn found no issue playing both Mata and Oscar in the same XI.
But while he may be struggling to force his way into Mourinho’s system, Mata’s unquestionable class will surely see a host of top European clubs registering an interest should his situation not improve by January.
One such club is Napoli, with Benitez ready to offer his former favourite a route out of Stamford Bridge and into Serie A, where the Partenopei boast a 100% record so far in the league, in addition to an impressive opening 2-1 victory in the Champions League over last year’s finalist Borussia Dortmund.
With reported interest already from PSG, Atletico Madrid and even London neighbours Tottenham, Chelsea won’t be short of offers but given his previous working relationship with Mata, Benitez will be confident of getting his man.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.