Jose Mourinho's Chelsea 2014/15 Team vs. His 2004/05 Premier League Champions

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistOctober 19, 2014

Jose Mourinho's Chelsea 2014/15 Team vs. His 2004/05 Premier League Champions

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    ALASTAIR GRANT/Associated Press

    Still unbeaten this season with just two points dropped in the Premier League, Jose Mourinho's Chelsea are looking formidable.

    For many, they're the favourites to win the title, with some even predicting the Blues could go the entire league campaign undefeated, emulating Arsenal's "Invincibles" of 2003/04.

    That would be a big ask, even of this Chelsea team, but it's a prediction that comes with it's merits.

    Chelsea look redoubtable right now, and with strength in depth across every position, there aren't many sides who look like they could get the better of them.

    It's all talk right now, though

    For Mourinho's new breed to prove they are the real deal, they need to win trophies.

    It's exactly what Mourinho's team of 2004/05 did in his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge.

    A decade ago, Chelsea were entering a period in which they threatened to dominate English football.

    That dominance lasted just two seasons, however, with internal politics eventually resulting in Mourinho's departure in 2007.

    The team he built went on to achieve success, but not in the way it should have.

    How does his current crop compare?

    Going through Mourinho's strongest XI for each team, Bleacher Report picks a combined starting line-up.

Goalkeeper

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Thibaut Courtois

    When thinking about players from a decade ago, it's important to remember reputations today count for nothing.

    We're looking at the player from 2004/05 and comparing them with the current incumbent at Chelsea.

    It was a big shock when Carlo Cudicini was dropped by Jose Mourinho for the manager's first game in charge as Chelsea manager.

    Chelsea were facing Manchester United at home and Mourinho opted for Petr Cech.

    Hindsight tells us it was a master stroke, with Cech going on to break records as a Chelsea goalkeeper. At the time, though, it was a decision many questioned.

    This season, history has repeated itself, with Thibaut Courtois dislodging Cech as Chelsea No. 1.

    The Belgian is 22, the same age as Cech was when he was preferred to Cudicini.

    When comparing careers at this stage, Cech's doesn't come close to Courtois.

    Courtois' three-year loan spell with Atletico Madrid has seen him play high-level football for a prolonged period, winning La Liga and also starting in the 2014 Champions League final.

    This summer also saw him feature for Belgium at the World Cup.

    Cech, on the other hand, was signed from Ligue 1 side Rennes and had helped the Czech Republic reach the semi-finals of Euro 2004.

    It's not just about games played, of course. Courtois has shown time and again that he is a better goalkeeper at this stage of his career than what Cech was, having a big impact at vital stages of matches.

    Cech did the same for Chelsea in his early days, but the presence of Courtois now outlines the difference between the two.

Defenders

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    Right-back: Branislav Ivanovic

    Chelsea's first-choice right-back a decade ago was Paulo Ferreira, a player Jose Mourinho had taken with him from Porto when moving to London.

    Ferreira was a solid player, but he was often targeted as the weak link of Chelsea's rearguard.

    That doesn't happen to Branislav Ivanovic.

    The Serbian can be criticised for his distribution when in attack, but as a defender, he can't be faulted.

    Ivanovic is tough, a real warrior, and given he was initially a centre-back, he brings added steel to Mourinho's current defence.

    He is a goal threat too, something Ferreira never was.

    Centre-back: Ricardo Carvalho

    It's difficult to split Gary Cahill and Ricardo Carvalho, but we're going for the latter here on account of how cultured he was on the ball.

    Cahill himself is comfortable in possession and works well alongside John Terry, but Carvalho was exquisite.

    Whereas Terry added the substance, Carvalho brought style to Chelsea's defence and was a vital part of getting counter-attacks started, demonstrating excellent vision and finesse.

    He could get nasty when the time called for it too.

    Carvalho was a complete defender.

    Centre-back: John Terry (circa 2004/05)

    He has just made his 500th appearance as Chelsea captain, but John Terry himself would even admit that he is not the same player as he was a decade ago.

    Terry has had to adapt his game considerably in recent years as the injuries have stacked up and age has crept into his legs.

    He's still a fine player, but the combative nature of his earlier days has dissipated somewhat. He isn't involved as much as he once was, leaving some of the dirtier work to his colleagues.

    Terry will always be a leader who never shies away from his duties, yet when comparing him to what we once knew, he isn't quite the same.

    There is an impression now that Chelsea can afford to miss him at times, which was never the case in 2004/05.

    Left-back: Cesar Azpilicueta

    Chelsea's current first-choice left-back has already beaten off the challenge of Ashley Cole for Mourinho's affections, and it's difficult to imagine the Chelsea manager would prefer Wayne Bridge.

    Mourinho inherited Bridge from Claudio Ranieri's reign, and soon after his appointment, there were plenty of rumours about other left-backs being brought into the club.

    After a long pursuit, Ashley Cole joined in 2006 and Bridge's Chelsea career all but ended there—a factor that wasn't helped by a serious ankle injury.

    Azpilicueta is the ideal Mourinho player. He rarely makes mistakes, doesn't leave himself open to being exposed and executes his manager's instructions perfectly.

    The Spaniard is a real team player, bringing solidity to the back line and helping Chelsea maintain their shape.

    Bridge was never as reliable and looked awkward at times. There was no flexibility.

Midfielders

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    Tim Ireland/Associated Press

    Right midfield: Frank Lampard

    There has never been a more prolific midfielder in the Premier League's history, and it's difficult to imagine there ever will be.

    Frank Lampard was already on the rise after three seasons at Chelsea, and when Jose Mourinho was named manager in 2004, his career hit the stratosphere.

    The 2004/05 season was the making of the midfielder we came to know during his Chelsea career.

    Lampard scored 19 goals in all competitions for Chelsea that season, so it was fitting that he scored twice in the 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers that sealed the title, given everything he had achieved before had put them in that position.

    He was a sublime midfielder.

    Central midfield: Claude Makelele

    When Frank Lampard was scoring goals from midfield, Claude Makelele was busy helping prevent them at the other end.

    Nemanja Matic has proved himself to be an excellent defensive midfielder since Jose Mourinho brought him back to Stamford Bridge in January, but such was Makelele's impact, he had that defensive position named after him.

    The Frenchman was world class, and Chelsea were of labelled as being "boring" because of him.

    Rather than being an insult, it was a huge compliment for Makelele because it meant he was so effective at his job—he killed games for the opposition. Nothing got through.

    Left midfield: Cesc Fabregas

    Completing our midfield three is Cesc Fabregas.

    In reality, given their dislike for each other, it's difficult to see Frank Lampard and the Spaniard lining up together, but given their qualities, it's difficult not to have them in the same team—on paper at least.

    He's barely into double figures for appearances in his Chelsea career, yet Fabregas has made quite the impression.

    The ex-Arsenal man is proving to be the missing link between defence and attack that Mourinho craved last term, his passing ability being the cog that keeps Chelsea moving.

    Indeed, it was often Eidur Gudjohnsen or Tiago who completed Mourinho's midfield three a decade ago, and while they were talented players, neither comes close to the class of Fabregas.

    It gets asked after every sublime performance he puts in for Chelsea, but really, what was Arsene Wenger thinking when he declined the chance to re-sign him this summer?

Attacking Midfielders

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    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    Attacking right: Arjen Robben

    Jose Mourinho landed on his feet when he arrived at Chelsea, simply due to the fact Arjen Robben had already been signed before he was announced manager.

    The Dutch ace was formidable in Chelsea's attack, playing on either the right of left of the lone striker, switching wings with Damien Duff.

    Robben was frustrating to watch at times—his simulation never helping his cause—but he was direct and created problems for the opposition whenever he was in possession.

    He helped turn attack into defence in the blink of an eye, and with Robben's pace, Chelsea killed off teams before they even knew what hit them.

    Attacking left: Eden Hazard

    Chelsea's 4-3-3 from 2004/05 would require Eden Hazard to perform a slightly different role, but it's one he would fulfill with the usual style we see every week in the modern era.

    The Belgian is an artist, and with each passing season, he continues to develop into the player many predicted he would.

    Mourinho's option a decade ago was Damien Duff, a player who proved effective on the flank opposite Arjen Robben.

    Hazard brings an extra dimension, though. He's quick, skilful and glides past players with ease.

    He allows for cute combinations with deep runners too, and that brings a threat from all over the pitch.

    Then there is goal return—his 17 last season outline his quality in that department.

Striker

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Diego Costa

    As we outlined in the opening slide when discussing goalkeepers, the key to understanding our selections when comparing Jose Mourinho's Chelsea of today to that of 2004/05 is knowing that reputations beyond that are not valid.

    For that reason, despite his legendary status at Chelsea for everything he achieved, Didier Drogba loses out to Diego Costa.

    When he arrived from Marseille in 2004, Drogba was still someway off becoming the player Chelsea fans adored in his later years. He wasn't as clinical in front of goal—a point proved by the 16 goals he scored in all competitions during his first season.

    Costa has scored nine goals from seven Premier League appearances and transformed Chelsea into one of Europe's most deadly teams.

    Can Costa go on to achieve all that Drogba did? Only time will tell, but right now, he is proving a far more potent threat than Drogba was in 2004/05.

    Vote for Garry Hayes as the best established football writer in the 2014 Football Blogging Awards: http://bit.ly/VoteGDH

    Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes

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