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Battle Within the Bridge 2.0: The Chelsea Midfield Battle

With Ramires back from suspension Jose Mourinho now has his whole squad ready to play and injury free (although Costa is a doubt). For the past three Premier League games, Mourinho has decided to use the 4-2-3-1 formation. With everybody healthy the formation would look like this:


Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta;

Ramires, Matic;

Schürrle, ?, Hazard


The goalkeeper dilemma must have been tough to sort out but either Cech or Courtois is a very strong goalkeeper. For now Azpilicueta has remained a left back for Chelsea and recently for Spain. Mourinho is also a fan of both Matic, for his tackling and superb defensive abilities, and Ramires, for his industriousness. Now, if this is the case, Mourinho faces a big dilemma for who to choose as his ‘ Number 10’ or central attacking midfielder. Will it be Oscar, the Brazilian starlet? Or Fabregas, the Barcelona outcast? Should Oscar keep playing or should Fabregas play until his performances slip?


1) His passing and vision

Fabregas made his first assist for Chelsea this season vs Burnley. The build-up play was exquisite and the finish by Schürrle was sublime. Fabregas played a sumptuous lofted pass to the German for him to tap it to the back of the net. Soon thereafter, Fabregas got another assist; poor marking during a corner gave Ivanovic the opportunity to capitalise on the set-piece and head the ball into the goal. Fabregas has already made six key passes this season and has made four assists, in only three games, as well as completing 88% of his passes. Out of 171 passes, Fabregas has completed 160. Oscar has only completed 87/95 passes. Fabregas is a perfect midfielder who was misused by Barcelona. Barcelona did not have space for him the midfield and he suffered playing as false ‘9’ whenever he was played. Now with Chelsea he is showing his true capabilities as a player.

2) He has experience and is entering his prime

Fabregas is 27 years old. In football that is the age in which many players enter their prime. They finally have the right amount of experience, have honed their abilities, yet they maintain their speed, strength, and stamina which will fade away when they get older. All of the aforementioned skills and abilities combine. Fabregas is showing that it is his time. His first three games have been superb and he is enjoying his time in the Premier League, albeit it is not with Arsenal but with an actual title contender.

3) His style of play

From the get-go Costa and Fabregas just seemed to click. Fabregas was never the stereotypical Barcelona midfielder. In his time at Barcelona he at times seemed lost and not comfortable with the quick passing and lack of freedom he had whilst at Arsenal. In SW6, Fabregas has been freed. He can do what he wants, as long as it’s in reason, as long as he occasionally defends. Fabregas and Costa are both different from the typical Spanish player, and both are the perfect players for Mourinho.

4) Oscar is reaching burnout

Oscar has not had a proper break since Chelsea bought him from Internacional in the summer of 2012. That same summer were the Olympics in London. Oscar helped Brazil reach the final in which they lost to Mexico. About a month later Chelsea snapped him up for around £20million and off he went to the Bridge. The 2012-2013 season was one of the most eventful seasons for Chelsea, a team which is always causing controversy. After winning the Champions League the previous season, Roberto Di Matteo managed to lose the Community Shield and get Chelsea knocked out at the group stages in the same competition and into the Europa League, leading to his being sacked. Rafa Benitez was then hired as interim and helped Chelsea lose the FIFA Club World Cup final vs Corinthians. Chelsea also got to the League and FA Cup semi-finals and capped off the year with yet another 3rd place finish. Chelsea played a total of 69 games in the 2012-2013 season; Oscar played 49 of those games in the Chelsea midfield. The following summer was the Confederations Cup for Brazil; they won and Oscar played in every game. Then last season Oscar was also one of the main players in the Chelsea squad and he played in over 35 games. Near the end of the season his form faded, as did his playing time. He had to rest for the World Cup. Once the infamous World Cup started for Brazil Oscar played in every game. As you can see, the man has not had a proper rest and has played in well over 125 matches since the summer of 2012, and he is only 22 years old. Fabregas would be doing Oscar a favour by allowing him to take a rest for a few more games and let him recover from the excessive amount of football he has played. Even this season his form has seemed bleak and his presence nonexistent.


1) Oscar has Mourinho on his side

The year is 2013. Jose Mourinho has come back to Chelsea for his second spell and his job is to rebuild Chelsea and instill some managerial stability since his first reign of terror in London. He has inherited a great team with an extremely talented midfield which possesses players like Juan Mata, Chelsea’s two time Player of the Year; Kevin De Bruyne, the Belgian midfielder; even Oscar, Brazil’s young ‘Number 10’. With three tremendously talented central midfielders it would be a tough job for Mourinho to choose one to be his official starter. Surely Juan Mata, Chelsea’s best player from 2011-2013, would easily take that spot? Oscar and De Bruyne didn’t stand a chance against the Spanish wizard. Well, actually, the opposite happened. Oscar showed his grit and by January, Mata was gone and so was De Bruyne. Now De Bruyne plays for VFL Wolfsburg, a mid table Bundesliga team, and Mata is currently facing another battle right now; a relegation battle.

Oscar showed Mourinho he deserved to be the starting central attacking midfielder. Oscar has great vision, good shooting, and above all, amazing defensive abilities; a Mourinho favourite. Mourinho chose Oscar because of his superb ability to track back, win the ball, make a tackle, and work his arse off, something Mata was not willing to do. Since the ‘Juan Mata conundrum’ Oscar has been one of Mourinho’s favorite players; now Oscar just has to remind him of that.

2. His tackling ability and willingness to track back

This was touched on a bit in the previous reason but there is more to it. Last season Oscar played in 33 Premier League matches for Chelsea, 9 of them being off the bench. In those 33 games, he made 49 successful tackles, 7 interceptions, and 28 clearances. 49 successful tackles from an attacking midfielder! For most of the game Oscar even plays as a “Number Eight” for Pete’s sake.

Sadly these are the only two reasons for which Oscar should be the starter. In a quick comparison of Fabregas and Oscar, Fabregas is superior is most categories. Oscar only has a better successful tackling rate than Fabregas. For now Fabregas should play and allow Oscar to get a proper break.

Stats provided by WhoScored and Squawka

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