Jose Mourinho says Chelsea’s style change to blame for defeats

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There is never a dull moment when Jose Mourinho is around… but right now, there are a few too many defeats.

Following their second loss in a week, the Portuguese manager blamed Chelsea’s recent poor form on their bad style of play that has been developed over the previous years,

Mourinho claims he is trying to change the way they play, to a more attractive and aesthetically pleasing manner.

“I don’t like the way Chelsea were playing in the last couple of years,” Mourinho said. “The club doesn’t like it and we want to change. When you want to build something different and the players are adapted and comfortable – it’s more difficult.”

Tomorrow’s West London Derby against Fulham, (12:30pm ET, watch live on NBCSN or online via NBC Sports Live Extra) presents the perfect opportunity for Chelsea to get back to winning ways after a rough seven days. But will the ‘Special One’ play it safe against the Blues’ neighbors?

Of course not.

“If someone expects me to play against Fulham tomorrow with nine players behind the ball and wait for them to make a mistake and win 1-0, then I will not go home happy,” Mourinho said. “We have a lot to do. The work I have to do does not sell papers – big defeats and big victories do – but the only thing I can do is to have belief in my players and wait for the results to come.”

(MORE: Preview – Chelsea vs. Fulham)

But despite being under heavy criticism from some portions of the press, the man Chelsea fans adore knows only too well just how fickle the game can be.

“Tomorrow maybe we win 3-0 against Fulham and everything is perfect,” Mourinho said. “Or maybe I will lose for the first time at home at Chelsea in four years and 200 league matches, and it is a big story. Football is not mathematic. I don’t know.”

Yet, it seems like Mourinho believes that previous managers have only been worried about grinding out wins with the West London club, instead of developing and nurturing free-flowing attacking soccer that will please the masses. True. There’s no denying that under the last few managers a defensive and rather dull style of play has emanated from the boys in blue.

(MORE: Basel pull of first Champions League upset, beat Chelsea)

However, can you blame Messrs Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez? All three were under huge amounts of pressure to succeed straight away. AVB had no success after less than six months on the job, but his predecessor Di Matteo somehow won the UEFA Champions League through a spirited mishmash of veteran determination, staunch defensive displays and lady luck. And then, following Di Matteo’s crazy dismissal, Rafael Benitez was yet another interim boss given the reigns. He had no time to work on a new style of play at Chelsea, and instead carried on with the status quo.

source: AP
Chelsea are failing to click into an attacking rhythm, as Mourinho tries to usher in a new style of play.

After all those short-term appointments and the various different players brought in, Mourinho is now left to pick up the pieces. I’m not saying he hasn’t inherited a squad that doesn’t possess world class players, because he has. But they are players who have been pulled one way, then the other, in terms of their tactical approach to play the game, after having so many coaches and ideas thrown at them over the past two seasons.

Now, Mourinho has a long-term project, a mantra to get Chelsea back to playing attacking soccer that will excite and delight the fans and make them one of Europe’s greatest teams. And despite Roman Abramovich’s ruthless style of ownership that has seen Mourinho himself fired in the past and many others after him, the Russian billionaire should give the ‘Special One’ time to develop a special brand of soccer at Chelsea.

This won’t be easy. There will be speed bumps along the way — just like Everton last weekend and Basel midweek — but if Mourinho is given time to work with these top players on the training ground over an extended period of time, there’s no doubt that one of the greatest coaches European soccer has ever seen will get it right.

It takes time to create a thing of beauty. Get off Mourinho’s back and let his ‘young eggs’ flourish.

Arsenal sends Gabriel Paulista to Valencia

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Arsenal has a thin defense, but that hasn’t stopped Arsene Wenger from thinning the squad even further.

Gabriel Paulista is headed back to the Spanish top flight after the completion of his transfer to Valencia. The Brazilian was sold for a reported $12.8 million, just below the $14 million price tag Arsenal coughed up to Villareal back in January, 2015. He will partner with Manchester City loanee Eliaquim Mangala at Valencia.

The 26-year-old made 64 appearances for the Gunners across all competitions, including 46 in the Premier League. His only goal for the club was Arsenal’s first of a 2-0 win over Bournemouth in December, 2015. His high-water mark with the club was a 120-minute performance against Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals where Arsenal came back to win 2-1 on an Alexis Sanchez goal in extra time.

“We would like to thank Gabriel for his contribution to the club and to wish him well for his return to La Liga with Valencia,” Arsenal said in its confirmation of the deal.

Paulista was utilized more than expected last season thanks to an injury crisis at the back, and still the Arsenal squad doesn’t seem fat enough to offload defenders, but Gabriel’s over-aggressive nature and tackling inaccuracy led him to an early exit.

With Arsene Wenger now deploying a back-three, the only natural central defenders currently on the roster are Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Shkodran Mustafi, and Rob Holding. Koscielny is suspended from a red card at the end of last season, and Mertesacker is battling a head injury. Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal, and Calum Chambers have played CB for the Gunners in the recent past, but it is not their natural position.

Fabian Johnson misses Gladbach training with injury

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With John Brooks already out long-term due to a thigh injury, the United States may have another key injury to work around.

According to Borussia Monchengladbach manager Dieter Hecking, full-back/winger Fabian Johnson missed training on Friday due to an unspecified injury, and is now a question mark for Gladbach’s home match on Sunday against FC Koln. It could be nothing, but even the scare is cause for concern among U.S. fans.

Johnson has battled a few injuries the past couple of seasons, including a hamstring problem last spring that kept him out for nearly two months, including a pair of World Cup qualifiers in March.

Johnson’s absence would leave a hole at right-back for the United States. The 29-year-old has been deployed some at right wing for the USMNT, but he has been relatively poor at that position in the national setup, looking better when pushed further back where he is given more defensive duties, roaming forward with less frequency but more intent.

In place of Johnson, another converted winger in Graham Zusi has been seeing more time at right-back, but he offers less in the attack and lacks Johnson’s recovery speed, meaning mistakes by the Sporting KC veteran are punished more often.

Falcao scores again to extend red hot start

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Monaco is hoping to ride out the final two weeks of the transfer window with 18-year-old wonderkid Kylian Mbappe still in tow.

While they wait, they aren’t missing a beat.

With Mbappe out of the squad, Radamel Falcao has begun the 2017/18 Ligue 1 season as Europe’s hottest goalscorer. He bagged a hat-trick last weekend with Mbappe on the bench to give him four goals in the first two league matches. Then, with Mbappe out of the squad entirely, Falcao netted the winner in a 1-0 road win over FC Metz.

Falcao has scored five goals so far this year, and his club has a +5 goal differential. In a way, Falcao has already been worth six points thus far.

Thanks in part to Ligue 1’s early start, Falcao’s five league goals are by far more than anyone else in the major European leagues. Four players have scored a pair of Premier League goals, nobody in La Liga or the Bundesliga have scored more than one, and the Serie A season has yet to start.

The Colombian did the same thing last season. After eventually coming off the shelf from to hamstring and concussion problems to start the season, Falcao scored 10 goals in 10 Ligue 1 matches leading up to the new calendar year.

At 31 years old, Falcao isn’t a long-term solution and the club will clearly look to retain Mbappe despite Falcao’s hot start, but should they lose the young Frenchman, the club will be in good hands while they search for a replacement over the next year.

Arena should give Ream a look in Brooks’ absence

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With John Brooks out three months thanks to a horribly timed thigh injury, the United States yet again has to scramble to fill a void at the back. It’s not the first time an injury to Brooks has left the USMNT scrambling for cover at a thin position.

In the successful Gold Cup this past summer, with a largely domestic squad in place, Omar Gonzalez saw the bulk of the time at central defender, with Matt Besler his partner through the final two matches. However, with European-based players now in contention for spots with the early September international break, those two are unlikely to continue, at least not together.

[ MORE: Liverpool holds all the cards in Coutinho transfer ]

The most obvious choice to start September 1st against Costa Rica and likely shoo-in should he remain healthy for the next two weeks is Geoff Cameron. The 32-year-old has been back and forth between defense and midfield with club and country, and although he has publicly acknowledged his preference for a spot higher up the pitch, he was used in a back-three in Stoke City’s Premier League opener last weekend and is steadiest at the back.

But with a spot next to Cameron up for grabs in Brooks’ absence, a player who should get serious consideration is United States fill-in extraordinaire Tim Ream.

Ream has had to work hard to earn his place with the U.S., and while he’s seen time of late, he’s not been a first-choice pick. The 29-year-old has four caps so far in 2017, with two of those starts, including one in the impressive 1-1 draw against Mexico at the Azteca with the US still clawing its way back up the Hex standings. Even then, Ream would likely not have earned that spot had Arena not chosen to rotate nearly the entire squad between the pair of qualifiers in that window. His other start this year, the 1-1 draw at Panama, only came after Cameron pulled out of the squad the day of the game with a late injury. The last time Ream started back-to-back matches for the U.S. came back in 2015 when he was somewhat of a regular through the second half of the calendar year.

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But now, with Brooks out, Ream looks like the perfect man to fill in again. The 29-year-old defender finished last season in top form as Fulham narrowly missed out on promotion, earning the official website’s Man of the Match award in a May 2nd draw with Brentford, and won it again in the club’s final match of the season.

Without missing a beat, Ream has picked up where he left off last campaign in the first few matches this month. Last weekend against Reading at the Madjeski Stadium, Ream’s center-back partner Tomas Kalas was sent off 36 seconds into the match, forcing Fulham to play a man down for 89 minutes. Ream and company solidified the back, conceding just once in the 61st minute en route to a 1-1 draw.

The club still likely requires reinforcements at the CB position – Ream was forced to partner with right-back Denis Odoi against Reading with Kalas suspended and Michael Madl injured – meaning Ream could see an influx of competition in the coming weeks. However, as it stands, the American is far and away the best (and most improved) central defender on a club favored for promotion.

Gonzalez performed well in the Gold Cup, and Matt Besler was serviceable, but with few other options in the heart of defense to take Brooks’ place, Bruce Arena could yet again look to Ream for an in-form replacement.