What’s left from the snoozefest between Chelsea and Arsenal? The war of words between Jose Mourinho, Arsenal fans and Arsene Wenger himself. The Premier League hasn’t been interesting for over a month, and it’s all Manchester City’s fault for messing up time after time.
Chelsea still aren’t champions. But they celebrated like they were after a 0-0 draw at the Emirates with an efficient ‘parking the bus’ performance. Jose Mourinho doesn’t want applause from anyone not a Chelsea fans, and subjective football fans (yes, that beast exists) eventually care about results more than anything else. Style? That comes later, and is something the losing side usually uses to criticize teams they can’t beat.
Not that Mourinho should be celebrated. Defending isn’t easy, but we’ve been through this before. He isn’t a genius, and it doesn’t take a tactical genius to defend with 10 men and a goalkeeper. Mourinho’s brilliance is in convincing supposed offensive stars to play like right backs and commit themselves to defending for 90 minutes. It’s not something that can work everywhere or with every team and fan base.
Liverpool can still make the Champions League, but it’s not going to happen. Not with Daniel Sturridge probably shut down for the season and scoring seeming a bit too difficult for them to do most of the time. Something went wrong this season and it’s not just Luis Suarez leaving. Brendan Rodgers didn’t handle it as well as he should have. For the Reds, who’ll be aiming for a top 4 finish next season with a bit more vigor, it’s out of the question to keep paying for Rodgers’ tactical experiments and hardheadedness at times, although he might get more of a say in the transfer market very soon.
Last, and least, are Manchester United. Yes, overall, Louis van Gaal is doing a better job than David Moyes, but is it because he’s such a better manager (Moyes was doing quite well Spain with Real Sociedad until this month) or was it the incredible transfer budget he has enjoyed? A bit of both. There’s a way, a system, and a process since Van Gaal took over. However, it’s far from flawless, and neither is he, not realizing his system isn’t working against a very direct and efficient Everton team, running all over the Red Devils in a 3-0 win. It eliminates any hallucination of actually playing for the championship, and might make sure Manchester United don’t take a top 4 finish for granted.