Where does self-confidence become cockiness or arrogance? Certainly anyone who listened to Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho after last night’s goalless draw at Stamford Bridge will have made their minds up about which category the Chelsea boss fits into. Was what he said last night carefully thought out or was it off-the-cuff? It was certainly the kind of talk to wind opponents up. If he’d carefully thought about what he was saying, perhaps he was trying to wind Liverpool up to the point where they’ll lose their discipline. If it’s not carefully thought out it could backfire. Mourinho is, "very, very, very confident we will get to the final. 99.9% of Liverpool fans will be thinking at the moment they have one foot in the final – but they aren’t. It is very difficult for them."
The cockiness/confidence question can also be pointed at on of the Chelsea players that were saved from relegation with West Ham. Joe Cole always comes across as a player full of confidence in himself. To hear him talk, it sounds like he’s already booked hotel rooms and plane tickets to Istanbul for his family. He said: "There’s no way that Liverpool are favourites and we’re every bit as much in this game as them. It’s going to be a cracking game."
The London boy glossed over Chelsea’s away record in the Champions League recently. The team from Stamford Bridge have lost their last three away Champions League fixtures. Not drawn, not won. Lost. Cole said, "The onus is on us and if we play like we can we’ll win this tie. We’re very confident and our away results this season have been fantastic."
So Chelsea losing 3-2 to Bayern Munich, 2-1 to Barcelona and 2-1 to Porto are "fantastic results". Bring on another one of those "fantastic results" on Tuesday.
We know what he means though – Chelsea will be dangerous next week. Joe Cole is probably just repeating what his boss has told him – he’s the type of player who’ll believe the Jose hype.
Liverpool weren’t particularly looking for goals last night, but the spin has now moved the emphasis on how good Chelsea were not to concede at home. Cole said, "It’s not exactly what we wanted but it’s a decent result and we’re happy. They’ve not come here and scored and we all know how important away goals are in Europe. We passed the ball well, particularly in the first half, but didn’t stick the ball in the back of the net."
As an afterthough Cole finally decided he’d better calm his confidence down a touch: "We weren’t surprised by Liverpool as they’re an excellent side and we’ve got a lot of respect for them. They’ve played very well against us in every game." He then had a message for Sam Allardyce’s Bolton team, who play Chelsea on Saturday: "Bolton’s not a distraction and it’s a fantastic opportunity to make history for Chelsea."
Eidur Gudjohnsen thinks that the Anfield atmosphere will help Chelsea. A full house of singing and flag-waving Liverpool fans at Anfield is going to put Liverpool under pressure according to the striker. Continuing the party-political line of the Chelsea party, Gudjohnsen said, "We’re not going to panic and will go to Anfield full of confidence. It’ll be a difficult game but they have to come at us as they’re playing at home. That could work in our favour as they’re under pressure but we’ll go out to win the game as we normally do."
Liverpool had Chelsea worried in the end last night – the way that Petr Cech was getting congratulations from his team-mates after the game showed that to be the case, and the Chelsea keepers said, "It was a tough game and we expected that. We came into half-time having missed a couple of good chances and felt we could have been in the lead. However, they also had two good chances in the first half and they didn’t take them. In the end I think we deserved to win. But Liverpool are well organised, and they kept passing and passing, and so it was difficult. We didn’t concede a goal and we can go there to Liverpool and get a result."
All of the Liverpool-Chelsea games have been close this season – both league games were 1-0 victories for Chelsea, the Carling Cup Final was all square after 90 minutes, Chelsea going on to win by a one-goal margin in extra time. Last night goalless draw further underlines that Liverpool on their day are capable of being a match for most teams. They need to be on their day next week – if they are, they’ll be in the final.