Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho expressed satisfaction with his players’ solid performance against West Ham.
The Blues maintained their perfect home record in the Premier League with a 2-0 win over the visiting Hammers courtesy of a goal in each half by John Terry and Diego Costa.
“The results are good, the players are happy,” the Portuguese, 51, quipped. “I’m happy as a coach because the team is playing well. I’m happy as a guy because I love my players. It’s important to feel happy with the people that surround me, it’s something I missed for a while and with this group I have a group that I love.”
The manager identified contrasting features between the first and second half and between last season and the current campaign, in which the Stamford Bridge outfit are closing in on a top-of-the-table finish for the year 2014.
After a tame first half reminiscent of the scenario in January, which had warranted Mourinho to accuse their west London neighbours of playing “19th century football”, West Ham poured out in numbers for an equaliser in the second half, only to fall further behind, with Morgan Amalfatino’s effort being their closest attempt but crashed against the woodwork.
“There’s no perfection but we played very well against a difficult team,’ said Mourinho. “We played well in two different versions; the first against a defensive side, and we were very good, we moved the ball, there was a good dynamic and lots of chances.
“In the second half we played against an attacking team that made changes by putting on faster players and playing direct balls into space. We coped well and found ways to counter attack. It’s very important for a team to identify different moments of the game and to be able to adapt. Today was a good example of that, the players did very well.”
The Boxing Day win over Sam Allardyce’s side ushers the leaders into a busy festive period on a winning note, with two away fixtures scheduled over the coming week; against Southampton on Sunday, and then at Tottenham on New Year’s day.
Chelsea are well on the brink of clinching a third Premier League title under Mourinho and currently leads Manchester City by three point and third-placed United a long way behind- both Manchester clubs were 3-1 winners apiece at West Brom and at home to Newcastle respectively later on Friday.
Costa’s strike was his 13th of the season, one short of City’s Sergio Aguero, and captain Terry has now scored twice in a week. Mourinho highlighted the balance between defence and attack in his team and their confidence at keeping the ball as a major difference between last season and now.
“We are a much better team when we have the ball. Last year we were very strong defensively and very well organised but we lacked a bit of creativity when we had the ball,” Mourinho explained.
“The challenge this year was to bring that creativity and dynamic without losing the defensive qualities of the team. The team is happy to have the ball but also comfortable when the opposition has the ball. I think we are a very good team.
“Football is football, you never know and the only thing we can do to try to reduce the unpredictability of football is to do what we’re doing: playing very well.”
Terry is full of confidence and no different from 10 years ago, according to Mourinho.
“‘He’s always had that, normally four or five goals a season. He’s playing so well but when the team is playing so well it’s easy for individuals,” Mourinho lauded the 34-year-old veteran.