Mourinho's Chelsea reserves overcome Arsenal in Capital One Cup

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It was Chelsea who emerged with the psychological advantage from the Capital One Cup clash with Arsenal after winning 2-0 at the Emirates. They also won a place in the quarter-final of English football’s neglected tournament, but Jose Mourinho will be more impressed with the way his fringe players rose to the occasion.

That might seem a strange description of Juan Mata, one of Chelsea’s most influential players last season. Under Mourinho though, the Spanish midfielder has struggled to hold down a regular starting place. Given an opportunity against Arsenal, he seized the chance to impress.

He did so with casual excellence. He started the move that led to César Azpilicueta’s opening goal for Chelsea and sealed the victory with a calm finish in the second half. Then he resisted the temptation to make a big deal out of it after the game. "The manager is the one who makes the decision but I will always try my best for this club," Mata said. "That's what I'll always try and do. We've played City and Arsenal this week, two of the best teams in Europe, and we've beaten them. That shows we're ready to fight for titles."

It also showed that Mourinho retains his hoodoo over Arsene Wenger. The two managers have been involved in nine matches against each other and Wenger is still waiting for a victory over Mourinho.

Cooler analysis suggests that the Chelsea victory was simply a matter of greater resources and more strength-in-depth. Arsenal’s reserves were lacklustre, notably Nicklas Bendtner. The Danish striker looked so rusty that he was withdrawn at half-time. A quiet exit in the January transfer window looks inevitable.

By comparison’s Mourinho's back-ups still formed a team that cost in the region of £250 million. If he can keep his extended squad happy, Mourinho may have a Chelsea side capable of challenging for titles in England and Europe.

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