Having ended his first season at Stamford Bridge playing 64 times for the Blues, scoring 12 goals and helping the club to a second consecutive European trophy, Oscar approached the current campaign hoping for more success. The Brazilian has certainly started in an impressive manner but, as he tells the official Chelsea website, he believes there is even better still to come…
It was 12 minutes into our opening game of the season against Hull City when Oscar raced on to a threaded Kevin De Bruyne pass and guided the ball past Allan McGregor in the opposition goal to open the scoring.
It was a strike which marked the beginning of the second Jose Mourinho reign, the first of the new campaign and, since that moment, Oscar hasn’t looked back.
Almost three months into his second season as a Chelsea player, the Brazilian can be satisfied with the form he’s produced, with five goals and a string of mature, accomplished displays to his name.
As we talk, Oscar, cutting a relaxed figure, is sat on a leather sofa in the reception area of our Cobham training ground. On the pitch it’s been a completely different story with his effort, desire and work-rate impressing Mourinho to such an extent that he is, fitness permitting, one of the first names on the manager’s teamsheet at present.
‘I’m happy with how the first three months of the season have gone, both for myself and the team,’ he tells the official Chelsea website.
‘I’ve been playing well in that time in the Premier League and Champions League, and I’m very pleased.
‘I’ve played the majority of matches and hopefully I’ll be able to continue in the same way right up until the end of the season to make sure the team are as successful as possible.’
More often than not this season, Oscar has been deployed in a central role as one of the three supporting attackers tasked with providing the inventiveness and guile, and it’s an area in which the youngster has flourished.
With the ball at his feet, the playmaker, who signed for the Blues from Internacional in the summer of 2012, has all the attributes required to affect the game in a positive way; great first touch, wonderful technique and the ability to pick – and execute – a killer pass.
Mourinho, though, places a huge emphasis on the work a player carries out off the ball in order to help the team, the ability to hassle and pressurise the opposition into making errors, another aspect of Oscar’s game which has been fundamental to his success.
‘Last year I spent a lot of time on the wing, but this season, although I have played out wide, I’ve mainly been used in the middle,’ he says. ‘It gives me a bit more freedom to express myself but I know how to play in all those positions and I’m very happy with how it’s going so far.
‘I’ve always been able to apply pressure in midfield, since my days in Brazil, that’s why I came to Europe so early. That helps me a lot, especially in England, because it’s a fast league so it benefits me. Being able to do that has made it easier to adjust to the nature of the Premier League.’
The nature of modern-day football, particularly at a club such as Chelsea, where expectations are high and there are two or more quality players available for each position, ensures the collective success of the group far outweighs any individual ambitions.
Squad rotation, in this day and age, is simply part and parcel of life at a top club, and while Oscar has made 16 appearances already this season, he is aware that at any given time there is a chance he may undergo a period out of the side.
‘The pressure is the same if you begin the game or come off the bench,’ he says. ‘When you start the match you have to give your best and do everything to help the team win the game. The players on the bench have to come into the game and try to help improve the team, regardless of what the score is at that time or how the team are performing.
‘I don’t feel any pressure on my shoulders. The manager makes me feel comfortable so I’m able to give my best in every game. If I play as well as I know I can then I know I will be an important member of the team and help us win matches.’
Mourinho’s men remain well placed to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League crown, only four points behind leaders Arsenal, even taking into account our last two matches in which we were beaten at Newcastle and held at home by West Bromwich Albion.
In the Champions League, meanwhile, having lost our opening game against Basel, we’ve responded impressively, winning three consecutive matches – home and away against Schalke, as well as against Steaua Bucharest in Romania – scoring 10 goals without reply.
A solitary point from our next fixture in the competition – away against Basel – would secure our progression to the knockout stages of the tournament, and with the memory of falling at the first hurdle last season still lingering, Oscar is determined for the side to do ourselves justice this time around.
‘Of course, because we are at a club the size of Chelsea, and we have the team we do, we are obliged to win every match and qualify for the next stage of the Champions League,’ he stresses.
‘Chelsea have a great team; last year we didn’t qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament but we lost by small details.
‘This season we began with a home defeat as well but we’ve recovered in a good way and we are now just a small step away from the next round.
‘Firstly, we need to make sure we qualify for the knockout rounds, but it’s also very important for us to finish top of our group.’
Thus far, we have lost only once at home this season, and remain unbeaten in the Premier League in front of our own supporters.
West Brom are the only side to emerge from the Bridge with any kind of positive result, and Oscar acknowledges the significance of being difficult to beat at home.
‘We have been very strong at home and, of course, we need to be if we want to win the title and do well in the cup competitions,’ he explains. ‘If you win all the games at home that’s the most important thing.
‘We have almost qualified for the next round in the Champions League and we’ve been very good in the Premier League. If we can win all our games at home and try to find a way of picking up points away we will do well.’
It’s been a solid start to the season for the playmaker, and one he hopes he can build on over the course of the next nine months, leading up to the World Cup finals in his home country.
Of course, the opportunity to play in the world’s biggest sporting event is something every player understandably craves, but for now, Oscar doesn’t want to look too far ahead.
There is plenty of football still to be played between now and next June, and much at stake for his club.
Fortunately, his immediate focus is on ensuring his performances for the Blues can match the high standards he has set since signing for the club.
‘We know that if the team play well in every game we won’t really lose many matches, but we all know that we have to perform and always give everything in order to win matches,’ he says.
‘I’m very happy, my family are very happy and we’ve all adapted well in London. I’ve adjusted and hopefully that is shining through on the football pitch.’