His unfortunate and uncharacteristic reaction to the horrible tackle he received from Burnley’s Ashley Barnes resulted in a red card and suspension that has come at just the wrong time from a Chelsea perspective.
Matic’s angry reaction has been well-documented over the last few days, and Mourinho has led the protests regarding his punishment. But whether the ban was warranted or not, it doesn’t take away the fact that Chelsea are going to have to do without their no-nonsense midfielder for the next two games which could prove vital.
The stats speak for themselves when it comes to how effective Matic is to Jose Mourinho’s side. When the Serbia international is in the heart of the Blues midfield, Chelsea tend to win. The ex-Benfica man does a formidable job in the holding role he takes up just in front of the back four. In the 37 games Matic has played in all competitions this season, the west London club have won 26, drew ten and lost just one.
However, the defeat Chelsea suffered when Matic was present, just so happened to come against Sunday’s League Cup final opponents: Tottenham. Chelsea’s only other loss of the Premier League campaign came when Matic was missing for the first time in the season, the 2-1 away defeat to Newcastle United. The two out of three times Matic hasn’t featured, Chelsea have lost – and is certainly isn’t just a coincidence.
The Blues’ poor form when Matic isn’t present just proves how vital the 26-year-old is to the club, who sold him in a deal to bring David Luiz to Stamford Bridge in January 2011, only to buy him back three years later for £21m – and what a stroke of genius the move has turned out to be from Mourinho. Everything seems to go through the dominant Serbian, and Chelsea are just not the same team without him.
After the ban has been subsequently reduced, Matic now misses Sunday’s showdown with Spurs and next week’s crucial Premier League visit to Upton Park. Mourinho will have to delve into his squad to replace the man he calls his “giant”, with Ramires more than likely to deputise in midfield. One thing’s for sure – with no disrespect to the Brazilian – the Chelsea boss would feel a lot more assured having the Serbian powerhouse in the heart of his midfield.
On Sunday, Mourinho will be looking for his first piece of silverware since returning to Stamford Bridge. Despite disappointingly dropping points at home to Burnley last weekend, the Blues are still going great guns in the Premier League, as well as the Champions League.
How much they owe this season’s probable success to Nemanja Matic is plain for all to see. It will be very interesting to see how Chelsea cope without him in what promises to be an enthralling Capital One Cup final.