Chelsea FC will advance to the fifth round of the FA Cup after a 1-0 victory over Stoke City FC on Sunday. Manager, Jose Mourinho, is on a roll with his Chelsea side, having won seven matches in a row considering all contests. Sunday’s match was the first for the club since the departure of Juan Mata for Manchester United, and the acquisition of Mohamed Salah from FC Basel. In all, Mourinho appears to be doing well with his transfer window moves. Recent matches have proven that Mata had ceased to be a significant contributor to the Chelsea offense. Even were that not the case, his temper tantrum on the sidelines after being substituted out a couple of weeks ago did nothing to endear him to his manager or the fans. There were very few complaints about his departure.
Salah will be coming to a squad who has been holding its own with the rest of the perennial Premier League front-runners. With his addition, they might well have what they need to take the club all the way to the Premier League trophy. With Torres out, it has fallen to Samuel Eto’o to carry the offense with the help of the Brazilian, Oscar. So far, they have done well. Sunday, Oscar scored the only goal in the FA cup match on a beautifully placed free kick, bent around and over the wall and into the top left corner of the goal. Though the squad struggled to score a second goal, and looked somewhat less energetic than usual in the match, they carried the day and Mata was not particularly missed. Salah on the wing added to the current lineup may just provide the injection of energy the club was lacking in the FA Cup Match. Chelsea will need it as they advance to the fifth round to face a familiar opponent.
Interestingly, it is the same club that stands in their way in both the Premier League and the FA Cup. The Chelsea squad will have to make it past Manuel Pellegrini and the Manchester City squad that has been holding on to the second spot in the Premier League standings, directly in front of them. With Aguero back after being out on injury, the City attack is back on track. It will take a show of brilliance to keep that offense, at or near the top in scoring this entire campaign, at bay in the upcoming matches. Even with Salah added to the Chelsea squad, the rock-solid defense and rapid counter-attack of Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolarov on the City defense will be a challenge to crack. Mourinho and his Chelsea side have never yet backed down from a challenge, however, and will likely rise to provide supporters a show to remember when the two clubs meet.
Some Premier League fans have been expressing curiosity about the departure of Mata for Manchester United, wondering if it is a prelude to Wayne Rooney being sold to Chelsea. Prevailing opinion is that, while unlikely during the January window, the move might well happen come this summer. Rooney is highly unlikely to agree to a contract extension with United if they do not end the season with a Champions League berth. Rather than gain nothing carrying him for the last year of his contract, they may just be positioning to unload Rooney to Chelsea for a profit. United manager, David Moyes, is clearly going to have to do a complete overhaul to achieve a better result next year. That may well mean that nobody will be off the table when it comes to re-building the club’s reputation. As good as they look this year, should next summer see Rooney jump over to Chelsea, next year they could potentially be a monster side.
For the moment, supporters will just wait and see what this window brings them. Chelsea FC will advance into the fifth round of the FA Cup, and face the Man City side that has looked so strong coming into the new year. Mourinho will reveal little with his trademark smirk, and the club faithful will continue to watch to see what he does next.
By Jim Malone