Monday night’s Christmas cracker against Arsenal can’t come around soon enough, according to an excited Jose Mourinho.
Speaking at a packed media conference ahead of our trip to the Emirates, the manager acknowledged that his side had been working on different aspects of their game to increase the chances of a favourable result being picked up in north London.
Mourinho, who also reiterated his delight at the prospect of a reunion with Didier Drogba when we face Galatasaray next year, confirmed that Cesar Azpilicueta will start on Monday at left-back alongside Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry, with the manager yet to decide who will partner our skipper at the heart of the defence.
We have already beaten the Gunners on their home turf this season, October’s Capital One Cup clash ending 2-0 to the Blues, but Mourinho was reluctant to draw any conclusions from that game – or indeed his overall record against Arsenal – when previewing Monday’s match.
‘It’s a different competition, with different motivations, different responsibilities, and, in some cases, different players,’ the manager explained.
‘It’s a big match for sure. It’s still a London derby, it’s still Arsenal and Chelsea, plus it’s first against third. It’s a pity it’s not tomorrow because I’m ready for the game, I’m waiting for the game and I very much want to play the game.’
Following the defeat to Sunderland on Tuesday night, Mourinho expressed his frustration at the fact that not only was his side not taking chances, they were invariably conceding from the few they were giving away. The manager discussed how he had worked in training to counter this problem and make us harder to beat.
‘We can improve our results by having more security when we lose possession of the ball. At this moment we are not punishing opponents by scoring goals and killing them but at the same time we are being punished when we lose the ball.
‘One of the aspects we need to improve is the defensive work by the attacking players when the team loses the ball. This is part of their responsibility. Today, in training, we just worked on the defensive aspect of the game.
‘To be a team where you play very good football is an important step; to be a team that plays very good football and wins lots of matches is a more difficult step. That step is only possible when the offensive players in the team defend very well when they don’t have possession of the ball and are comfortable working a lot for the team.’
Asked for a Christmas wish, the Portuguese replied that all he wanted were two victories, either side of the big day, against Arsenal and Swansea respectively. The conference ended on a jovial note when a French journalist asked Mourinho for what he described as an ‘SOS’ for the manager of Ligue 1 side, Evian. Having been criticised after a defeat by his country’s press, Pascal Dupraz responded that he would only take advice from Jose Mourinho. Our boss, already aware of the story, was more than happy to offer his wisdom.
‘Every one of us is criticised. The point is to keep your identity, to believe in yourself and to not be influenced by the critics,’ he said.
‘When you are sure you are working well and your ideas are the ones you believe deeply in, you have to stick with it and not be influenced by what the critics are saying. It’s something you have to learn to live with; otherwise you will lose concentration and energy.
‘Over the years I have learned that the dogs bark and you have to keep walking.’