Chelsea

Jose Mourinho's Chelsea 2013-14 vs. 2005-06

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistNovember 11, 2013

Jose Mourinho's Chelsea 2013-14 vs. 2005-06

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    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    It's been a little over three months since the 2013-14 season kicked into action, and in that time we have been able to get a better idea for how well things will go for Jose Mourinho upon his Chelsea return.

    Given his impact at Stamford Bridge during his inaugural spell in charge—winning back-to-back Premier League titles, among a host of other trophies—it was understandable that most Chelsea supporters would be expecting a similar outcome.

    This is a different Premier League, however. It's one that has changed considerably in the 10 years since Roman Abramovich purchased the Blues, and with the money being spent on new recruits by their rivals, the level of competition has gone up a notch.

    It's a also a very different Chelsea team that Jose Mourinho has inherited and one very different to the team he took to unprecedented success in 2006.

    How do those teams match up against one another? Are Chelsea stronger now than the team that secured successive Premier League titles? Or are they weaker and in need of more inspiration from their leader?

    Looking at some key areas in the make-up of the team, Bleacher Report investigates a little further.

The Case for the Defence

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    Much of the debate surrounding Chelsea this season is whether Jose Mourinho knows his best team or not.

    There have been key areas where Chelsea have not looked stable, with Mourinho often rotating as a result, searching for the ideal combination.

    It's clear the Portuguese still rates the talents of his captain John Terry, but question marks remain regarding who will partner him at the heart of defence.

    Thus far, David Luiz and Gary Cahill have shared responsibilities, with Terry given the occasional rest for midweek fixtures.

    It all suggests the manager isn't confident with those he has at his disposal, but he needs to make a decision and take the plunge sooner rather than later.

    In 2005-06, any indecision over the Blues defence was far from the question. Chelsea's No. 1 defensive partnership was the Terry-Ricardo Carvalho combination and it served them well, too.

    At the same stage as we find ourselves this season, Chelsea had lost just six goals, having not conceded in their opening six matches. Their overall goals against would be 22 in the Premier League that season.

    This term they have leaked 10 and while defensive solidity doesn't look too far off, there have been moments when Chelsea have looked vulnerable.

    *All stats from SoccerBase.com and Statto.com

Midfield

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    In 2005-06, Frank Lampard scored 20 goals for Chelsea in all competitions. He's going to be a long way short of that this term and there doesn't yet appear to be another midfielder who will hit such an impressive mark.

    That's not to suggest Chelsea's current crop of midfield stars lack talent, but the contribution of Lampard's goals over the course of a season were worth so much to Chelsea, easing the burden on the strikers.

    In fact, his goals were directly responsible for seven points in 2005-06, not to mention the countless games in which he helped them rack up victories, scoring the opener or helping ensure there was no way back for the opposition.

    In Eden Hazard, Oscar, Juan Mata and Andre Schurrle, Chelsea's midfielders are not looking as prolific—although it must be said Hazard and Oscar's four league goals each this year is an encouraging sign of what may come in the near future.

    Outside of that, Jose Mourinho had Claude Makelele to marshal his midfield whenever Lampard was poaching goals further forward. Right now, the Blues do not have a defensive midfielder anywhere near the class Makelele demonstrated and, as a result, are not able to control games the way they once did.

    On the wings, Arjen Robben and Damien Duff were a massive threat in 2005-06 and terrorised most defences they faced on a weekly basis, with Joe Cole also another impressive attacking option.

    With their aforementioned attacking talents now, the Blues not only have more strength in depth, however, but players who harbour a different threat and are more than a match for their predecessors.

    *All stats from SoccerBase.com and Statto.com

Strikers

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    Before the criticism comes, you'll have to bear with us on this one.

    Chelsea's options with their strikers appear much stronger right now than they did in 2005-06, despite the presence of Didier Drogba back then.

    While Blues fans were spoiled with the sight of Drogba racking up the goals later in his Chelsea career, it must be remembered that the Ivorian, in the early part of his Stamford Bridge career, was far from the threat he would become.

    That's not to say he didn't impress—he did at times—but he struggled for consistency and the fans often let him know their thoughts when it came to his form.

    Indeed, it reached the point where Drogba remonstrated with one fan after he scored the winner in a 1-0 victory against Arsenal early that season.

    Drogba had been receiving some jeers from the Matthew Harding Stand crowd, and when he deflected his effort beyond Jens Lehman to seal all three points, he wasted little time in singling out the man who had earlier criticised him.

    Such criticism of Drogba would cease, of course, but in 2005-06, Chelsea's frontline wasn't as impressive as it is now.

    Mourinho can currently choose from Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba. All three are players coming into form right now, with Eto'o and Torres once ranked among the world's most-feared frontmen.

    In 2005-06, it was an improving Drogba, tormented Hernan Crespo and inexperienced Carlton Cole who led the Chelsea attack.

    *All stats from SoccerBase.com and Statto.com

Character

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    It's a staple of any team Jose Mourinho has coached. In the face of adversity, they often come together and pull through. And if they don't, they sure as hell come close to doing so.

    Chelsea's 2005-06 Premier League champions were a team who were rarely outdone. They battled for supremacy and when they had earned it, they turned their dominance into exceptional performances, running away with the league title.

    The 2005-06 season started with Hernan Crespo scoring a 90th-minute winner against newly-promoted Wigan Athletic and, from that point, Chelsea never looked back.

    That game set the tone for what Mourinho's Chelsea were about. They were unrelenting, never giving up in their pursuit of victory, and won a further seven matches with goals that came in the final 20 minutes to prove the difference.

    This Chelsea team seems to be made of similar stuff and has already displayed a similar determination never to lose matches.

    Last weekend's 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion is the perfect example.

    Coming on the back of a disappointing defeat to Newcastle United a week earlier, Chelsea were trailing 2-1 at home to the Baggies with time all but up and the referee ready to blow his whistle.

    They kept believing, though, and eventually got their reward when Ramires was fouled in the box and a penalty awarded. It was subsequently dispatched by Eden Hazard, and while it will be seen as two points dropped, Chelsea took so much more from the game.

    If the Blues do win the title this season, it will be moments such as that against West Brom that will stand out as significant.

    *All stats from SoccerBase.com and Statto.com

Verdict

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    The Chelsea team circa 2013-14 may be one full of young, promising talent, but just as much as that is a strength of which the Blues are rightly proud, it is also a significant weakness when comparing like-for-like with their predecessors from 2005-06.

    Jose Mourinho's team from that era was one ready for success.

    In fact, they had already lifted the Premier League with a record points haul the previous season and, rather than building for what might happen in the future, were primed to achieve everything expected of them. And they did.

    Right now, Chelsea continue their transition to a club for the modern era, although Mourinho has returned at the moment when the Blues are close to finding their way back to the summit of English football.

    If success doesn't come the way of Chelsea this term, we can be sure the Blues will be etching their name into trophies next season and beyond.

    Can the current crop become greater than the Class of 2006? Only time will tell, but for now they remain—ever so slightly—in the shadow of a team that will go down as one of the Premier League's finest.

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