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Dec 16, 2013

Chelsea's Champions League shot

Jose Mourinho 131216 [576x324]
Will Jose Mourinho's counterattacking style take hold at Stamford Bridge?

In this wide-open Premier League season, nearly all of the top clubs have provided their fans with at least one emphatic victory to prove they are capable of winning the league title. In fact, over the weekend we saw two such victories, as Manchester City showed how explosive its offense can be in a 6-3 victory over Arsenal, while Liverpool staked its claim as a contender with a convincing 5-0 win over Tottenham.

Chelsea is a team without one of those statement victories, and to make matters worse, manager Jose Mourinho fears that his current team may not be capable of scoring a high volume of goals against a major contender. Still, Mourinho’s men were able to finish the Champions League group stage with a 1-0 win over Steaua Bucharest, and as a result Chelsea now faces a two-match showdown against Galatasaray in the round of 16, which kicks off in February.

Mourinho must have been relieved to be leaving the group stage at the top of Group E, as it allowed him to avoid teams like Barcelona and Bayern Munich. But he also has recently admitted that his current team has little chance of winning a trophy this year, frankly pointing out that "I don't think we are the big contenders of any competition … we know we don't have that striker we used to call the killer, the selfish one, the one that gives the last touch."

Mourinho is accurate in his offensive assessment. Chelsea has recorded 32 Premier League goals this season, but a league-high 10 goals have come as a result of individual errors from opposing teams and the Blues have also been buoyed by scoring eight goals from set pieces. Plus, the team has defensive issues. Moreover, unless Chelsea’s current players can adapt to Mourinho’s counterattacking style, the Blues do not appear to be a legitimate contender for the Champions League title this season.  

Here’s a look at where Chelsea is struggling in terms of the counterattack, potential transfer targets who could fit at Stamford Bridge and the Blues’ outlook versus Galatasaray and beyond.

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