The visitors' 2-0 win at Anfield wasn't pretty but Jose Mourinho will not care – he set out to win at all costs and came away with all three points
Watching the Jose Mourinho masterclass against Liverpool on Sunday, an Arsenal -supporting friend, resigned to the annual cycle of hope and dejection, remarked: "Arsène Wenger would never even think of doing this."
Even the most ardent of Arsenal haters would be hard-pressed not to appreciate the beauty of Wenger's style of play. Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and co have had it drilled into them to play football "the Arsenal way". But at what expense?
Love him or hate him (as many fans of rival clubs do), Mourinho is a winner. Substance takes precedence over style and the former Special One, Happy One and, most recently, self-titled Mr Bean doesn't care a jot what people think.
Which was what made the Chelsea manager's comments after a 0-0 draw against West Ham in January all the more ludicrous.
Having watched his side fire 39 blanks at Adrián's goal compared to West Ham's one shot of their own, Mourinho cried: "This is football from the 19th century. This is not the Premier League . This is not the best league in the world ... the only thing I could use was a Black and Decker to destroy the [West Ham] wall."
And so we move neatly onto Sunday. While West Ham enjoyed 27.7 per cent of possession in that match at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, Mourinho's side had even less (27 per cent) against Liverpool. If a starting line-up featuring John Obi Mikel, Nemanja Matic and Frank Lampard protecting the back four suggested a preference for defence over attack, the addition of Gary Cahill in place of André Schürrle for the final 15 minutes made it abundantly clear.
The football wasn't pretty, but Mourinho's brief was to prevent the league's top scorers from adding to their tally – something that he did admirably. While free-flowing football was at a premium, it was impossible to deny the brilliance of Ashley Cole, Tomáš Kalas, Branislav Ivanović, and César Azpilicuetas' defensive performance .
Mourinho might not like it when another manager does it to him (who does?), but Sunday proved once again that the Portuguese truly is the defensive master.
Having delved into the archives, here are some more examples of Mourinho's defensive skills. It's the result that matters, not the manner in which victory is achieved.
Chelsea in 2004-05
Mourinho's first Chelsea side was one that lacked a true playmaker, which meant the team often targeted three points at the expense of aesthetics. It is difficult to criticise a side that won 95 points on the way to winning the league at a canter, but, for such dominance, Chelsea did not set the world alight with their exciting brand of football.
Their defensive prowess was almost unrivalled in recent times, setting a Premier League record for the most clean sheets in a season and the fewest goals conceded. Yet only one Premier League-winning side since the turn of the century have scored fewer goals than the Chelsea team of 2004-05.
There is no shame in winning ugly and Mourinho proved then that he could alter tactics to suit his personnel.
Inter Milan v Barcelona, 2010
What do you do when playing against a team that is better than your own?
Protecting a 3-1 lead in the Champions League semi-final at the Nou Camp, Mourinho's Inter Milan side produced the ultimate lesson in how to defend. Playing more than an hour with 10 men, Inter held their Spanish opponents to a 1-0 victory in what Mourinho described as "the most beautiful defeat of my life".
The Portuguese manager's tactics were a complete success, halting the attacking threat of the likes of Xavi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lionel Messi to book a place in the final. Reacting to criticism (similar to his own of Sam Allardyce earlier this season) of such a defensive approach, Mourinho replied: "It is a style of blood not skill. When the moment of leaving everything on the pitch arrives, you don't leave the skill, you leave the blood.
"We were a team of heroes. We sweated blood. It's a pity I could not play because I have got the same blood."
The words don't make much sense but the tactics did.
Chelsea v Arsenal and Manchester United, 2013
Chelsea's performance against Liverpool was not the first time they have played in such a defensive manner in the league this season (or in Europe, as was apparent in the Champions League semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid).
In just the third Premier League match of the campaign Mourinho's side travelled to face the reigning champions at Old Trafford. The Portuguese manager, starting his second spell in charge of the club, decided to leave Fernando Torres and Romelu Lukaku on the bench, keep Demba Ba out of the squad altogether, and start without a recognised striker. Result = 0-0.
A couple of months later Chelsea took on Arsenal at the Emirates in a 0-0 bore draw that left Telegraph Sport's Henry Winter with this as the opening paragraph to his match report : "This was mission accomplished by Chelsea, and a not particularly pretty mission. Judging by their players’ celebrations at the final whistle, Chelsea departed with what they came for, a point, from a Premier League match that was a five-star advertisement for late-night, last-minute Christmas shopping."
When asked about his side's defensive tactics, Mourinho said: “We came to win, but it was very important not to lose ... we are not unhappy with the point.”
Real Madrid v Barcelona, 2011
Even Mourinho can take his defensive tactics too far sometimes. Taking on arch-rivals Barcelona for the fourth time that season, Mourinho had a Champions League semi-final first leg at the Bernabéu to contend with.
In a bad-tempered game that saw Pepe sent off and Mourinho banished to the stands, the Portuguese manager even managed to upset his own players with the way he set up the side as Real slumped to a 0-2 home defeat. Having been asked to operate as a lone striker with little support from team-mates, Cristiano Ronaldo then switched to the right to take on an out-of-position Carles Puyol, yet continued to be starved of the ball.
When asked if he liked Madrid's style of football in the defeat, an unhappy Ronaldo said: "No, I don't like it but I have to adapt to what is asked of me. This is the way it is. We have a strategy."
Barcelona held Madrid to a 1-1 draw in the second leg and went on to lift the Champions League trophy.
So not even Mourinho can ensure victory 100 per cent of the time. But if you are looking for someone to upset the odds, the current Chelsea manager has done it before and he will doubtless do so again.