Mourinho making Chelsea hard to beat

During Jose Mourinho's first season at Chelsea his side won the title conceding a miserly 15 goals.

Jose Mourinho of Chelsea

When they lost 3-2 at Stoke on December 7, four months into the Portuguese's return campaign, they had shipped that total already. It appeared that there was a sports car parked in front of their goal as opposed to a bus.

Since then, though, their record reads as three goals conceded in nine games, with the crowning moment being Monday's 1-0 win at Manchester City.

After the Stoke game, some were wondering if Jose was still special. Of course he is.

To analyse Chelsea's defensive record this season is interesting, though, as the Press Association's MatchStory illustrates.

Despite the perception, they have actually been defensively sound for most of the season.

They have allowed just 18 efforts at goal inside their six-yard box, with only six of them turning into goals.

From outside the box they are even better, letting in just two efforts. Such has been their defiance inside their own area that 43.4 per cent of shots they face are ambitious ones from range. Added to that, they have let in just four headers.

A match-by-match breakdown of the Blues' season shows that real defensive improvements started after the 2-0 loss at Newcastle in November.

They faced 15 shots that day and since then have not touched that number again, other than the 24 that rained in without success at the Etihad. That can be qualified, though, by the fact that goal-crazy City have netted over 100 times this season. Chelsea's achievement in keeping them out was a significant one.

Also noteworthy is that in their three biggest games in the nine-match period since Stoke - Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City - Mourinho has opted to put David Luiz in front of his preferred partnership of Gary Cahill and John Terry.

Terry has been spoken of in England terms lately, with some saying he needs to end his international exile to partner Cahill at the World Cup.

The duo have played together in 17 of Chelsea's 24 Premier League games this season, with Chelsea conceding seven goals in the seven they have been apart and 13 in the 17 they have been together. Eight of the shots Chelsea have allowed to be taken in their six-yard box have come when the two have been separated.

There is no indication that Terry will make himself available for England duty once more. Unfortunately for Roy Hodgson, though, even if he does, Luiz - an unsung factor - remains entirely out of reach.

Swansea have always been rightly applauded for the way they go about their business, with the Welsh club rising from the Conference trapdoor to the Europa League in a decade.

Their success has been built on stability and passing football, so it was a little surprising to see Michael Laudrup - the man who won the Capital One Cup last season - lose his job on Tuesday.

The decision came amid an alarming dip in form that has put them in the midst of a relegation battle, but from the outside goes against the way of working the club has prided itself on.

But, the Dane has gone and in light of his departure and the club's apparent break from tradition in letting him go, perhaps they should have looked further afield than their own stadium for a new manager.

There is nothing to say long-serving defender Garry Monk will not be a good fit in the job, but is now the best time to throw him into a first managerial post?

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