Bridge Banter: Chelsea need to beat Tottenham Hotspur to keep up Premier League title pressure

Jose Mourinho's silent treatment seemed to do the trick against Fulham

Jose Mourinho's silent treatment seemed to do the trick against Fulham

First published in Sport Wimbledon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by

When Jose Mourinho gave his superstars the silent treatment at half-time at Craven Cottage, it proved the perfect response to a lacklustre first-half performance.

Chelsea turned a soporific 0-0 draw into a sparky 3-1 victory, with Andre Schurrle achieving a 16-minute hat-trick, thanks to the skilful assists from team-mates Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres.

Sometimes fire and brimstone work, but sometimes it’s the softly spoken message that rings out the loudest.

Fulham hardly knew what hit them after the break as the Chelsea attacks multiplied in number, ferocity and effectiveness.

Keep schtum, reap Schurrle. In fact, Jose did say a few choice, pithy and largely unrepeatable words, then turned tail and walked out, leaving his team glancing awkwardly at each other.

Captain John Terry led the Blues out for the second half with an utterly different attitude, banishing the post-Istanbul exhaustion that seemed to have turned limbs into fenceposts for the first 45 minutes.

Quietly, Mourinho was delighted with the reaction. The question now: Can Chelsea build on it this weekend when Spurs visit the Bridge?

Tottenham have been making hard work of it in recent weeks, just as Chelsea have looked liberated and threatening.

But Chelsea v Spurs at Stamford Bridge doesn’t always go according to plan, and with a free-scoring, if also free-conceding, Liverpool breathing down their necks, the Blues have to keep up the pressure, seven weeks ahead of the Anfield showdown that may yet determine the title.

Jose is angry that the fixture list has been tweaked again for armchair television viewers rather than his players.

Had Saturday afternoon’s London derby been pushed back to Sunday afternoon, he argues, it would have given players of both sides longer to recover from the week’s internationals which see, for instance, John Obi Mikel fly back and forward to the States and Oscar (looking cream-crackered last weekend) make a round trip to South Africa.

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