Despite Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho recently implying here that, because of the players he currently has, he will need to adopt a shift in tactical outlook, playing up to the strengths of his attacking and creative midfielders, a former Arsenal player Paul Merson believes 'the Mourinho way' will still prevail and that he doubts the two-time Champions League-winning boss even enjoys playing entertaining football.
Looking ahead to Monday evening's clash of the titans when Arsenal host Chelsea, Merson - a two-time title winner with the Gunners - told Sky Sports: 'I expect Chelsea to be difficult to beat and they will make it hard for Arsenal by playing "the Mourinho way". They will be rock solid and go from there.
'I don't think Mourinho enjoys playing entertaining football. He's a top manager because his teams have always been well-oiled machines who play from a base.'
During Mourinho's first spell in charge of the Stamford Bridge side, Chelsea were a formidable outfit, rarely beaten, with a stubborn yet highly effective playing style - especially when at home. However, this season, they have already dropped a dozen points after 16 matchdays. Merson identifies the cause - his players, he claims, are not as well organised as they were in the past.
'In his teams of the past everybody would know what they are doing, but I don't know if his players do at the moment. He doesn't have the steel in his team that he used to. Jon Obi Mikel sits in front of the back four, but he's no Claude Makelele. You don't see him breaking up play and making interceptions like Makelele used to.'
Regardless of any apparent flaws of late, Merson cannot see past a score draw, 1-1, on Monday.
'I don't see Chelsea going to Arsenal and getting beat. Furthermore I don't think Arsenal can afford to lose. I think [Arsenal will] be more cautious than they have been in the last two games and as a result this could be quite a cagey game.
'I'm going for a draw.'
image: © Ronnie Macdonald