With the final match before Christmas ending goalless, Jose Mourinho explained Chelsea played the type of game needed in order to stay very much in the title race as the season approaches the halfway point.
The Chelsea manager counted one very good chance for each side, ours when Frank Lampard hit the bar, and several half-chances for the visitors with none for Arsenal. But with his team yet to become adept at converting such half-opportunities, he had to guard against being too open against one of the pacesetters.
A 4-3-3 shape with John Mikel Obi in the anchor role and careful marking by others when Arsenal had the ball in midfield worked as planned, with Petr Cech able to claim his 150th Premier League clean sheet when Olivier Giround couldn’t convert from close range late on in the game…
‘We came to win, we wanted to win but it was very important not to lose,’ assessed Mourinho, ‘because if we did we are five points behind the leader. With a point we are two behind the two leaders and that is a completely different picture. We tried to win but we are not unhappy with the point.
‘If we scored goals in direct relation to what we produce we would be in a fantastic situation. We are not scoring enough goals and it’s not just the problem of the strikers not scoring goals, it is also the problem of the other people who do not transform half-chances into goals.
‘I call half-chances the half a dozen ones today when you recover the ball, you have space and the opponent is not balanced. You feel the goal can happen but then you are not aggressive and sharp. So when you are not this, you come to control the game and we controlled the game. There were no saves from the keepers, one big chance for us and lots of half chances, and for Arsenal one big chance and no half-chances because we controlled everything.’
Asked about complaints that John Mikel Obi should have been shown a red card for a challenge on Mikel Arteta, Mourinho spoke about the reaction of Arsenal players…
‘They like to cry but I prefer to say that English people, and I give Frank Lampard as an example, would never provoke a situation like that.
‘Players from some other countries have that in their blood. Even if you are hurting, even if there is contact, even if the opponent was aggressive with you – come on, let’s go, this is English football. Foreign players are bringing lots of good things but I prefer English blood in football and in these situations it is come on, let’s go.
‘The tackle was hard and aggressive but there are other fantastic sports I respect without contact. Football is a game of contact.It is English football, it is winter, water on the pitch, sliding tackles at fantastic speed, so play with pride. I think the ref had a good game.’
The result made it five wins, five draws and no defeats for Mourinho against Arsenal…
‘I don’t think they have a mental block, they have a good team without any doubts,’ he said.
‘They played well, and they played the game we wanted them too as well because when we left Arteta free we knew what we were doing. He was free but he was not finding the open lines he normally finds with his passes so it was Arteta to Sagna to Arteta to Gibbs to Arteta, because my players were in a compact block without any problems. Arsenal played their game and they tried to win the game but I think we played tactically well.’
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger thought his side were a little tentative due to having shipped six goals in their previous match at Man City…
‘We have dropped two points,’ he said. ‘Chelsea defended well and were well organised and we didn’t find our zippy movements to play through lines as we can do. They were happy with the point, we were not happy with the point but we couldn’t take the few chances we created.’