Is Mourinho right to blame Chelsea's finishing for defeat?

Jose Mourinho Double

Chelsea have had their worst start to a season since the arrival of owner Roman Abramovich a decade ago in 2003 as Jose Mourinho’s Blues were defeated 1-0 by Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Mourinho’s men undoubtedly had the opportunities to beat the Toffees – Chelsea enjoyed (or rather should have enjoyed) their 57% possession over the course of 94 minutes but Steven Naismith’s header in stoppage time just before the break was not met with reply and was enough to deny the Blues any points this weekend.

Mourinho asserted in his post-match press conference that Chelsea’s poor finishing, despite ‘easy chances’ across what he claims was an ‘easy to win’ game, was at fault for the result and pointed to his players individual ‘mistakes’ as the key to Everton’s victory.

Chelsea had 22 shots, exactly double Everton’s, yet had the same number, only five in total, shots on target which would imply that Mourinho is correct in his claims. Both debutante Samuel Eto’o and then second-half substitute Fernando Torres were poor in front of goal, both clumsy and lacking composure with numerous chances to penetrate Tim Howard’s goal.

Mourinho claimed Everton were not creating chances but, at the end of the day, as they say, Chelsea’s superior possession and creative play did not pay off by the final whistle.

Chelsea really increased their pressure on Roberto Martinez’ defence in the second half with wave after wave of attack but, nonetheless, their efforts were to no avail as Everton kept their resolve and the clean sheet they deserved for what was a solid and committed defensive display in the second half.

However, Chelsea’s finishing was not the reason and certainly not the only reason they lost the game – if you can’t score then you must at least ensure you don’t concede and, in this instance, Chelsea were unsuccessful at both ends.

The goal was not a freak accident and Everton almost had a second late on when Leighton Baines’ free kick hit the crossbar – Chelsea committed 12 fouls throughout the game and Howard Webb cautioned four of Mourinho’s players, three of those bookings coming in the last quarter of an hour as a frustrated Chelsea side lost their discipline and composure.

Despite their inferior possession, Everton’s passing when they had the ball was far more efficient and effective – Chelsea, in contrast, were wasteful, lacked direction, cohesion and impact.

Chelsea’s poor finishing was enough to cost them a victory but it was their naivety in defence that really cost them all three points on the day – time and time again, Everton drew Chelsea onto them, held firm in their own half, and then countered into an abundance of space left in behind as Chelsea searched for that elusive equalizer.

Kevin Mirallas and Ross Barkley were intelligent on the ball and, the former especially in the later stages, caused some real problems for Chelsea with his positioning up front on his own – the Belgian provided an outlet for clearances and breaks for the Toffees and he nearly caught the Blues out on a couple of occasions.

Mourinho is right, Chelsea could have had five or six if they’d have converted their ‘easy’ chances but their failure to close down Everton’s neat passing on the edge of the penalty area, their failure to close down the cross that led to the goal and their poor positioning and awareness of Nikika Jelavic – left completely unmarked at the back post – was their undoing.

They gave Everton’s attackers far too much time and space on the ball for the goal and it cost them dearly in the end.

That was the difference between one point and no points ultimately, their poor finishing was another problem altogether – their strikers are operating seemingly completely devoid of confidence at present and Mourinho must address that immediately to avoid further defeats in their cumbersome upcoming London derby fixtures against Fulham and Tottenham this month.

One of the key attributes we associate with a Mourinho team is their solidity and organization at the back and it was in Chelsea’s failures to stick to that script that was their downfall against Everton – yes, they missed some sitters that should have been ‘easy goals’ but they made the game hard for themselves by not being harder to break down.

Before the game, I suspect Mourinho would have taken a goalless draw away at Goodison Park but his team forgot the golden rule – if you cannot score, then at least you don’t concede.

image: © phuonq

Register for CHELSEA team updates

Register for EVERTON team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch