Oscar’s dip in form a key element in Chelsea’s struggles

Chelsea’s struggles in the Premier League have been well reported this season, with the reigning champions losing their eighth domestic game this term at the weekend against newly promoted Bournemouth.

There have been plenty of sweeping statements in the media over why the Blues have not been anywhere near their unrelenting best this term, with an ageing defence and a misfiring striker with a high opinion of himself two of the most-commonly coined.

However, watching Chelsea in action, there is a lack of creativity that seems almost baffling given the drumroll of attacking talent at José Mourinho’s disposal.

The most effective role for chief protagonist Eden Hazard remains to be seen, but the outspoken Portuguese coach has maintained that it is not in the number ten role.

This season it has been frequently Willian that has taken up this position behind a lone striker, while Cesc Fàbregas has also moved into an advanced position at times.

When stating just why Hazard was not seen as a number ten, Mourinho used the examples of past charges Deco and Wesley Sneijder as examples of the ilk of player he sees as an attacking creative fulcrum.

Looking at the Stamford Bridge squad, despite Willian’s relatively positive recent showings, the player most likely to fit into the former Real Madrid coach’s notion of an ideal number ten is undoubtedly Oscar.

The Brazil international certainly shares plenty of the same attributes as the afore-mentioned schemers.

A player that relies on clever movement, an immaculate first touch and superlative vision over physical attributes, his guile has often been necessary to offset the direct elements of the Chelsea team.

OscarOscar has proven during his time in England that he has the skillset to both create and score goals, with his clever interplays and ability to unlock opposition defences perhaps an understated facet of recent success for the West London club.

However, the 24-year-old can frustrate as well as inspire, with his form this season joining other high-profile team-mates as being lower than expected.

Niggling injuries can certainly be accredited for the former Internacional man not being at his best, which have also robbed him of a run of games in the team.

But, despite Mourinho’s considerable task in getting illustrious stars such as Diego Costa, Hazard and Fàbregas back to their best, having a fully firing Oscar available would surely make Chelsea a more menacing attacking unit.

No-one knows the Brazilian’s calibre better than his manager.

Oscar admitted in the past that Mourinho tried to sign him for Real Madrid before he opted to switch to Chelsea.

Since the pair have been united at Stamford Bridge, the Portuguese coach has selected him in the chief playmaker’s role more than any other player and to the detriment of other stars.

Juan Mata was firstly reduced from a key element to a fringe figure before being sold to Manchester United, courtesy of Mourinho’s preference of playing Oscar in the number ten role.

The South American has been part of the best Chelsea sides in recent years; the ones that looked unstoppable at times under Mourinho and swept aside opponents both domestically and on the continent.

Still only 24, Oscar has development to undertake but his natural talent is second to none in the Blues squad.

Given that he has started less than half of the West London club’s Premier League games this season, rumblings over his future have started to make their way into the press.

However, Oscar offers Chelsea a unique skillset amid the squad’s cohort of stars, with Mourinho needing the diminutive playmaker’s vision and creativity in his attack if the champions are to make a march up the table.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
Stay updated by email

Enter your email address to receive our articles by email: