Comment: Chelsea’s homage to Arsenal could see the Blues all the way to the Premier League title

An uncanny resemblance to the Arsenal of old last week proved why Chelsea have the quality to take this Premier League season by storm.

Back in May 2000, Arsene Wenger’s side beat Gianluca Vialli’s Chelsea for the second time that season.

A Gunners team, which included Tony Adams, Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Viera and Thierry Henry upfront, comprised a core which modern day football teams would envy. In fact, Chelsea admired it so much they bought Petit the following summer.

The result was fairly straight forward for Wenger – there were no touchline handbags with Vialli, anyway – as the Frenchman’s side eased to a 2-1 win courtesy of two Henry goals. The striker’s double was the ninth consecutive game in which he had scored.

At Stamford Bridge last Sunday, Jose Mourinho’s newly-moulded Chelsea core displayed remarkable similarities to that Arsenal team at the turn of the millennium.

Mourinho’s final touches to what appears to be a masterpiece were made in the summer with the incoming of Brazilian-turned-Spanish powerhouse Diego Costa, and Arsenal’s old flame, Cesc Fabregas.

Of late, it’s been quite the fashion to be a failure in Chelsea’s forward line – a trend set by Fernando Torres and Andriy Shevchenko – but Costa has viewed that as far too mainstream. The 25-year-old’s nine goals in seven games at the start of a season is only bettered in the Premier League era by Micky Quinn’s ten for Coventry City back in the 1992/93 campaign.

“John Terry may not have much pace – frankly, he never did – but with the solid foundations which Mourinho’s side has, he really doesn’t need it.” – SWL’s Tom Roddy

Watching Costa bares no resemblance to Henry, but the qualities he has displayed in his first few months in west London show he could be every bit the star of this generation that Henry was for his.

Stepping back into the engine room are another two Mourinho buys: Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic. If the former Arsenal man has the keys to unlock the opposition’s defence, Matic provides the iron railings to keep them out.

The big Serbian is the unsung hero of this Chelsea side, and his value to Mourinho’s core is clear to see through the Portuguese’s decision to pay £21m for a player they sold three years before for £1.5m.

During his first spell in charge that began in 2004, Mourinho bought Claude Makelele from Real Madrid. His time at the Bridge was so successful, his name now signifies a footballing role. Matic has taken that mantle and modernised it; he has the defensive qualities of Makelele mixed with the fiercely imposing nature of Viera and Petit.

And just as Tony Adams was Wenger’s leader in the back line, Mourinho can still rely on the sole first team survivor from the 2004 side, John Terry.

The Chelsea captain may not have much pace – frankly, he never did – but with the solid foundations which Mourinho’s side has, he really doesn’t need it.

Small concerns around Stamford Bridge were whether Chelsea’s back line could deal with the pace of Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck, but in the compact way Mourinho sets his side out in the big games, the opposition were suffocated.

It’s a dangerous thing to allow Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea to sneak a lead, something Sir Alex Ferguson knows all too well about. Manuel Pellegrini and Wenger may well have also known this, but with the resources Mourinho has at his disposal, there just may not be anything to do about it.

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