Relegation-threatened Crystal Palace beat Chelsea 1-0 on Saturday, thanks to an own goal by John Terry. Depending on the weekend’s other results, Chelsea could slip down to third place by the time Sunday evening rolls around.
The game’s only goal may have been gifted, but that doesn’t mean Palace didn’t deserve their victory. The hosts were strong in defense, keeping Chelsea at bay, and even after taking the lead continued to hit the opposition hard with fast breaks. Crystal Palace could very well have finished with at least another goal, possibly two.
As you might imagine, José Mourinho certainly had a few words to say about his side’s defeat. “Crystal Palace deserved the victory, they fought for their lives. We had good chances and their goalkeeper made some good saves in the first half. But their spirit was stronger, their desire was stronger and their commitment was stronger. That disappoints me, but it’s a defeat that we can only blame ourselves for.”
The Blues’ boss went on, lashing out at his players a bit. “Some of our players are not comfortable in these types of matches, like Stoke away, Newcastle away and Everton away. Can I change this? I don’t know. My defenders are phenomenal, but in other positions we have players that can be in trouble.”
It seems as though the tactician is saying that some of his players lack a certain toughness, that they’re able to be bullied around by sides that play a more physical game. Those players, he implies, will need to step it up – or perhaps risk losing their spot at Chelsea.
But it may be too late to succeed this season. After the loss, Mourinho said, “Now we have lost our chance of finishing first. Now we depend too much on other results.”
He might have a point. Should Manchester City beat Arsenal, they’ll go top, with two games in hand. Liverpool can retake first with a win over Spurs on Sunday.
However, with the exception of a date with Liverpool at the end of April, Chelsea’s remaining games are all against sides in the bottom half of the table. It’s quite feasible that the Blues could still gain ground. So is this yet another mind game from Mourinho? A way to motivate his players? A statement born of frustration?
Or does José Mourinho really believe Chelsea’s title challenge is finished?