Jose has an uncanny knack of being able to take the pressure off his players that are under the most scrutiny.
I’ve seen over a hundred articles, quotes and opinion pieces written about Costa and his behaviour since the final whistle was blown on Saturday. And I think it’s great.
Because going into the game, our defence were lambs to the slaughter for the press, to name a few:
- The defending champions who had conceded the most goals in the league
- Sitting just above the relegation zone
- Ivanovic in the worst form of his career and set to be released at the end of the year
- Terry named on the bench
- Courtois out for 3 months and Begovic not looking like a top Premier League goalkeeper
So what happened next shouldn’t have surprised anyone:
- Ivanovic named as captain and producing a solid (if unspectacular) performance
- Matic looked back to his best, destroying anything that went through the middle
- Zouma and Cahill (for the most part) were untroubled
- Azpilicueta reliable as ever
- Begovic had his best performance in a Chelsea shirt
In short, a 2-0 win at home to Arsenal isn’t to be sniffed at no matter how it came about.
The clean sheet was the platform from which to build and we looked more organised than we have in any game prior this season.
It should be the defensive 6 that are covering the back pages, but that wouldn’t sell quite the same amount of newspapers now would it?
Besides, Jose doesn’t want any sort of limelight for his defenders. He wants them performing at their optimum as the best defense in the Premier League, and on Saturday they got pretty close. And all of a sudden the media spotlight and ‘professional’ scrutiny on Ivanovic and co disappears.
The Costa circus is the ideal tonic and Jose will keep him in spotlight for the time being – he even named him man of the match in the post match press conference – while work continues on the back four that needs all the confidence it can get at the moment.
Whether Jose intended Costa to do quite as much headline grabbing as he did, I’m not sure, but either way it worked.
And for the back line, a clean sheet at home to Arsenal is just what the doctor ordered.