Chelsea finished last season in third place in the Premier League for the second consecutive season, but unlike previous years there was no European glory to wipe away the taste of another disappointing domestic campaign. But did Chelsea improve under the guidance of the Special One last season, or have they been treading water for a couple of season’s now?
The short answer is yes they did improve. Under Rafa Benitez’s guidance Chelsea averaged 2 points a game in 2012/13. Under Mourinho they averaged 2.2.
A .2 points improvement does not sound like much but it was the difference between finishing third and fourth. More importantly for Chelsea fans, all the indications are pointing to an improved Chelsea side under Mourinho.
Chelsea conceded the fewest goals (27) in the league last season while the average number of goals shipped per game (0.7) was lower than under Benitez (1). Furthermore, the Blues conceded fewer shots per game with Mourinho (10.4) than they did during Benitez’s tenure in west London (12), so it is fairly clear that the club have become a more solid defensive unit.
One of the big differences between the Mourinho and Rafa sides was that Chelsea won possession more times in the middle third under Mourinho (24.6) than Benitez (21.2), largely because of the play of Nemanja Matic, who seems to be the defensive midfield dynamo that Chelsea have lacked since Michael Essien was in his prime. No Chelsea player won possession more times in the midfield third per game (4.2) than Matic did last season.
Mourinho’s sides are always strong defensively, but their Premier League rivals will have to be concerned if he manages to add a top scorer like Diego Costa to the line-up. When he had proven goalscorer’s at Real Madrid in 2012, his team set records for most goals scored (121), and highest goal difference (+89).
What did you think of Chelsea last season? Did they improve under Mourinho?