Jose Mourinho confirmed in his press conference this afternoon that Ashley Cole is fit and back in the squad ahead of Sunday’s game with Manchester City.
The left-back picked up a rib injury in our win at Norwich three weeks ago, consequently missing England’s two World Cup qualifying victories and our own recent successes against Cardiff and Schalke. The manager was delighted to tell the journalists in attendance that, barring long-term absentee Marco van Ginkel, he has a fully fit squad to choose from ahead of the game with our fellow title challengers at Stamford Bridge.
We lie just a point and two places above Sunday’s opponents with almost a quarter of the season played, but Mourinho was keen to play down the significance that this match would have on the final destination of the league title.
‘I just play every game the same way. We prepare every game the same way: we want to win. In this moment, with the way the Premier League is going week after week, no result will put a team in a great situation and no result will put a team in a difficult situation,’ the Portuguese said.
‘Every weekend somebody will lose points. Some weekends more than one of the top teams will lose points. The league is hard so at this stage, mid-October, one game is not going to be crucial.
‘Manchester City are a very good team, of course. But we have tests every week. Every match is a test, and every match can be three points, so it doesn’t make a difference. We have to play our game and let’s see if our game is enough to win.’
Fernando Torres’ brace in midweek capped an excellent few days for our forwards, coming as it did just three days after Samuel Eto’o’s first goal for the club in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Cardiff. The manager sees their success in front of goal as just reward for the endeavours of our whole frontline over the course of the season thus far.
‘I’m happy with all of the strikers. They were not scoring goals but they were working really hard. They were doing a good job for the team and for their team-mates.
‘There are different ways of contributing for the team than just scoring goals, and all three always did that. It was a positive week for Torres and Eto’o because they scored goals and that is what gives them the greatest happiness.’
Our strikers haven’t been the only ones finding the back of the net of late, with 14 goals in our last four games an impressive tally. Our manager said that nothing had changed in particular from earlier in the season, when we were finding goals harder to come by, but that it was simply a case of taking our opportunities when they came. Tuesday’s 3-0 win in Schalke, Mourinho said, was a perfect case in point, contrasting it to our defeat against Everton earlier in the campaign when profligacy in front of goal early on eventually cost us.
City are the league’s top scorers themselves and they got two more in midweek, against CSKA Moscow, but their victory in Russia was overshadowed by reports of racist chanting from sections of the home support. Mourinho offered his support to City and Yaya Toure, but also believes that the enjoyment of the masses should not be spoilt by the actions of the minority.
‘This country and other countries are trying to do what it can against racism. UEFA and FIFA have campaigns. A huge percentage of the people that go to football stadiums are people who respect the differences and respect everybody, and they are more important than the small groups that express themselves in a negative way,’ Mourinho said.
‘Racism is about principles. They don’t start in football, they start in your house when you are kids. Football is not guilty, and football should not be responsible for cleaning racism out of the world. I think families can do it and parents can do it.
‘The history of football was made by many races. Let’s fight the thousands but let’s give to the billions what the billions want, and that is the best football with the best players from all over the world, whatever their race.’