Oscar talks about big home games to come, a new but familiar team-mate and a summer schedule Stateside…
Chelsea’s record in the games Oscar has played against Manchester City since moving to Chelsea in 2012?
The answer is an even three wins, three draws and three defeats – a good illustration of just how closely contested this fixture has been in recent times.
Today we welcome the team from the blue half of Manchester to the Blues’ home in London for our third meeting this season. The results from the previous two are one win apiece. Oscar played in our big FA Cup win over Manuel Pellegrini’s side in February but was missing due to injury when we suffered defeat up there in our first away game of the campaign.
Today’s encounter between the sides may be viewed as one of the more unusual in Oscar’s time. For once Chelsea are not in direct competition with Manchester City for a trophy and the visitors arrive with the game entwined in their most successful Champions League campaign ever.
Chelsea, however, know rather a lot about juggling the needs of more than one competition at this stage of a season, and Oscar confirms he and his team-mates are anticipating nothing less than a motivated Mancunian side when the tea-time kick-off arrives.
‘They fight for the Champions League in the semi-final but if they lose, they need to do well in the Premier League,’ the Brazilian says.
‘They need to play good, we know this, but we play at home and we will play for the fans and for sure it will be a good game.
‘It is two big clubs and always when we play against them it is difficult but they know we have a good team. Always against Man City, especially at home, it is good to play against them. I like it a lot. I think the players like to play against them because it is a great atmosphere in the game.
‘I think everyone knows they have a great midfield and great attacking players, but we have too and I think that is why it is often a great game.’
Not to be forgotten either are some exemplary performances by Chelsea’s rearguard in the previous two seasons when we emerged from four league meetings with City with two wins and two draws.
‘We need to defend like the team defended in those games,’ Oscar agrees. ‘I know we lost our last game against Swansea but especially in the Premier League we have been playing well and we need to continue this.
‘Everyone is upset, the players and the fans, because this season is not the season we wanted because we had the team to fight for the title. We don’t this season but we try and now we have six games left to play well for the fans.’
Oscar then turns his thoughts to further ahead and strikes an optimistic note.
‘The team now is almost the same team we had last season for winning the Capital One Cup and the Premier League. The team is very good but we had injuries this season, we had a change of coach and we had little problems with the team, but everyone knows we have a great team and for sure next season we come back strong. This season we didn’t start well but we will try to prepare for next season to start well.’
Overcoming Man City is the most immediate target with Bournemouth away to follow, but coming soon is another big home game with Tottenham in the unusual position of heading down the Fulham Road higher than Chelsea in the league table. This will lead to some fears about the vulnerability of our proud unbeaten run at home against these London rivals. Oscar was not even born the last time Spurs won at Stamford Bridge. He is fully aware of the magnitude of the first match in May.
‘Another big game and for sure we will prepare well for this one. The team’s first thoughts are with the Man City game and then Bournemouth but after is the next game at home against Tottenham and we need to prepare for the big derby.’
With young players increasingly involved in the closing weeks of this campaign, at the age of 24 Oscar is no longer one of the most youthful in the squad. Indeed he became a father for the second time with the birth of his son Gaius at the start of this week.
He smiles and points out he is still relatively young for a footballer when asked if he now feels like one of the senior players at Chelsea, but he agrees he is able to guide the newest influx along,
‘Not just me but every player with more experience is helping when they come in to play games. Ruben is doing well, Kenedy is doing well, Bertrand is doing well. I think we have a lot of young players this season who everyone is helping become confident and they play well.’
Another recent addition to the side has been Oscar’s compatriot Pato and the instant understanding between them was noticeable at Aston Villa, not least in the silky move that led to Pedro’s first goal early in the second half. It shouldn’t come as a surprise.
‘We have played a bit together and he is a good friend,’ Oscar reveals.
‘We played for Brazil at the London Olympics and the friendly games before that. He was the striker and I was the player behind him and when he has confidence, Pato is a very good player.’ Those last words are accompanied by a little whistle to emphasis the admiration.
‘Now his confidence comes. He’s played just two games but maybe he has more opportunities now. He is happy because he is in a big club and he wants this.’
Brazil are likely to come calling for Oscar this summer for a special centenary Copa America to be held in the United States. He missed last year’s regular tournament in the four-year competition cycle due to injury. If he does take part this time he will see plenty of the USA with Chelsea’s pre-season tour there to follow.
‘I like to play there, I’ve played a lot of friendly games there,’ he points out, ‘but for now I just try to play well in the remaining six games for Chelsea. Then I can go in a good position to help the national team.’