Ahead of tomorrow’s London derby against Arsenal, Jose Mourinho has spoken about the Gunners’ marquee summer signing, a player he managed while at Real Madrid, Mesut Ozil.
The German made the switch from the Bernabeu to the Emirates shortly before the closure of the summer transfer window, and his impact has been immediate.
Mourinho, having worked with Ozil for three years in Spain, is a huge admirer of the creative attacker, and believes Arsenal have benefited hugely from his arrival.
‘He’s a phenomenal player, he’s one of these players that you buy and you complete the puzzle of your team,’ said the Chelsea manager. ‘You don’t need time, you need nothing, he arrives and you have an empty space waiting for him, his quality, maturity and leadership. You know that automatically your team becomes better.
‘There are players that you buy that you realise you need to work with, adapt or find the best solution to get the best out of them, but Ozil needs nothing. He arrived, Arsene gave him the shirt, immediately he starts playing and immediately the team becomes better.
‘I think I know how to try to stop him being direct influence in the game for 90 minutes, but it’s impossible to stop him for 90 minutes because these kind of players always have a moment, or a couple of moments where you cannot stop them and they end up showing why they are so good.’
Arsenal have been top of the table for the majority of the current campaign, but having been in similar positions in past years, and subsequently fallen away, their critics believe there is plenty of time for Arsene Wenger’s side to falter.
Defeats to rivals Manchester City and Manchester United have only served to raise further questions about their ability to last the pace, but Mourinho has seen enough to suggest they will be a threat right until the end.
‘In my previous time here Walcott was a kid, he’s now a man, these other guys are in the best moments of their careers; Wilshere, Ramsey, Gibbs, they are the perfect age,’ explained the Portuguese.
‘I’m not saying Mesut transformed the team completely. The manager and club gave these players conditions to have stability for their evolution and now when you buy Giroud, Ozil and others, of course the team becomes much better and ready to be doing what they’re doing, which is fighting for the title.
‘To arrive at Christmas time at the top of the league is a sign they are fighting for the title, they have the squad so they have the conditions to do it.
‘Up until now they are the strongest team, they have more points than anybody else and they have already played Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United, so the Chelsea game will be the last match against the other contenders.’
Mourinho also had words of encouragement for former Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas, who was sacked by Tottenham Hostpur last Monday.
‘In football nothing surprises me, anything can happen,’ said the Blues boss. ‘When they gave him a three or four year contract it was because they trusted him and they thought he was the right man to be their manager. They had a couple of bad results but I don’t think its reason to change the trust or the change the manager.
‘In the last six months I spoke to Andre three times, once at a manager’s meeting, another time when we played them and again a couple of days ago. I didn’t speak about the case, I said come on, the world hasn’t finished, tomorrow another job will come, so Happy Christmas. I didn’t speak about the case because only the people inside know what happened.’
Our game against Arsenal is the first of a run of four games in the Barclays Premier League over the Christmas and New Year period, with home games against Swansea City and Liverpool to follow, before we open 2014 with a visit to Southampton.
Mourinho remains confident both in his own and his team’s abilities and, looking at the bigger picture, sees no reason to be concerned about our upcoming run of matches.
‘I know why I came back and what kind of job I was asked to do,’ he said. ‘To prepare this new Chelsea team for a decade, in the same way the other Chelsea team lasted for around a decade, we can’t have a better manager than I am.
‘I think I’m the right person to do the job and a bad result on Monday or Wednesday doesn’t change that perspective.’
– Fans can send a personalised Chelsea FC Christmas e-card to their friends and families.