Chelsea look on course to lift the Premier League title in May after extending their lead to seven points at the weekend. It seems that Mourinho’s men have found an extra gear that they were lacking last season.
Meanwhile, Manchester City have taken their eye off the ball and the chasing pack of Manchester United, Arsenal, Southampton, Spurs and Liverpool seem to be content on scrapping it out for the Champions League places.
Mourinho, in his second stint in the Chelsea dugout, has done some remarkable business in the transfer market, in fact it’s been so good that Chelsea fans have claimed they have “won” the last two transfer windows. And it’s hard to disagree.
Juan Cuadrado is the latest Chelsea recruit after making a £23.3m switch to Stamford Bridge just over a week ago. An astute piece of business, as Mourinho let Andre Schurrle leave for Wolfsburg for around the same fee to balance the books. However, it’s the transfer dealings over the summer that has really made Chelsea untouchable.
The arrival of the Spanish duo, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, has transformed Chelsea from a very good functional side to a team with a cutting edge and creativity that can unpick the tightest of locks. Chelsea were crying out for a top level finisher and Mourinho finally got his man when paying Atletico Madrid over £30m for the Spanish battering ram Costa.
Although, despite scoring 27 goals in 35 games for the La Liga champions last season, the Brazilian born striker arrived with a question mark hanging over him. Would he prove to be a one season wonder?
A well-known Spanish sports journalist had described him as a “Mercedes version of Kevin Davies” – so there was ammunition ready should Costa not hit the ground running – but seven goals in his opening four matches soon silenced the doubters.
The forward also brings a strength and robust style of play that is reminiscent of Didier Drogba in his pomp. On his day he can be unplayable. Meanwhile, his ability to hold the ball up and bring others into play has seen the midfield runners of Eden Hazard and Oscar plunder 15 league goals between them already this season.
However, a small caveat with Costa is the nasty streak that has seen him miss three league matches with suspension recently. The 26 year-old striker has a petulant side and has taken the Premier League role of pantomime villain after the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona.
But Chelsea fans aren’t bothered by this in the slightest, as long as Costa, who has 17 goals in 19 league games, fires Chelsea to the title and European glory then he can wind up who he wants.
Cesc Fabregas is another integral cog in the Chelsea machine. The former Arsenal man is the chief creator, the guile and architect behind the brilliance of Diego Costa’s goals. Fabregas’ contribution is just as vital as that of his compatriot – 15 assists in 21 league games is a stellar record – while he looks set to break Thierry Henry’s record of 20 assists in a Premier League campaign.
Luis Felipe is another new signing from Atletico Madrid but the Brazilian left back has been on the periphery of the starting XI and, when he has started for Chelsea, he has been a steady “seven out of ten” player. Nevertheless, Mourinho wouldn’t have expected the 29 year-old full back to be grabbing the headlines but to be providing competition for places in defence – and to his credit – he has done just that.
With just ten minutes under his belt, it’s of course far too early to judge Juan Cuadrado, but his performances for Colombia at the World Cup caught the eye and looks suited to the physicality of English football.
Selling David Luiz, Andre Schurrle and Romelu Lukaku for a combined £100m has allowed Mourinho to recruit Fabregas, Costa and Cuadrado without a net spend. Remarkable business.
But it’s Mourinho’s new striker, Diego Costa, which has turned Chelsea into runaway leaders and has the rest of Europe looking over their shoulder.