Jose Mourinho conducted his weekly pre-match press conference at Cobham ahead of tomorrow’s Barclays Premier League game against Everton, with the manager boosted by the return to fitness of John Terry and a positive week of training for the whole group.
The captain hasn’t been involved since our 1-0 win at Manchester City due to a minor muscle problem but, having trained this week, is ready to return.
It’s a development which has been made all the more significant by the news David Luiz will not feature tomorrow after picking up a muscle injury in training.
Other topics covered by Mourinho included the form of our opponents, the reaction from the players following last week’s FA Cup exit and his thoughts on playing early in the day.
Firstly, though, he provided an update on the availability of the two defenders.
‘John is fit and he will play,’ said Mourinho. ‘I’m not thinking about Galatasaray, the team will be the team I think is strong for the game.
‘David Luiz is injured, he’s feeling some pain in his muscle, he’s not ready for this game but hopefully he will be ready for the next one. The next game is in the Champions League where we will have two players less than normal because [Nemanja] Matic and [Mohamed] Salah cannot play. We need him, if possible, to be ready for Galatasaray.’
With Terry having missed our last three matches, Mourinho is understandably delighted to be able to call on his services once more.
‘It’s important, especially because now we don’t have David. If we don’t have David and John the situation is even more difficult, so the fact John didn’t play but David did, and now David can’t but John is ready, gives us that balance,’ explained the Blues boss.
‘He’s a stable player, not a player that makes lots of mistakes. He has a basic level of performance that gives stability to the team. Every team, especially one with a lot of young players, needs stability from the back and that stability from the back is something which is keeping us in a good position in the league.
‘For me, the captain’s armband doesn’t mean so much. What really matters is the voice on the pitch. Many times I can’t control that, especially when they are defending the goal far away from my position. Sometimes there are things to control, like the distances, position of the defensive line and the line where we start pressing the opponent. To have a player on the pitch with this kind of voice, to transmit what I need, is important.’
A win tomorrow would see us extend our lead at the top of the table to four points, at least until Arsenal complete their game against Sunderland later in the day.
Everton remain well placed to challenge for a place in next season’s Champions League and, despite the fact they are without a league win at Stamford Bridge since 1994, Mourinho knows it will take an impressive display from his side to secure all three points.
‘They are a very good team, they’re playing well and getting good results,’ he said. ‘They are in a position in the table that reflects the quality of their team and obviously it will be a very difficult match for us.
‘They defend well and are dangerous on the counter attack. They have a very experienced midfield with players like Barry and Osman who give them stability to their game. They are a team with good balance and they are a difficult opponent.
‘I don’t think statistics play a part, it’s an isolated game and it doesn’t matter what happened in the past. We think we can beat them because we believe in ourselves and we worked hard during the week to be at a good level for the match. We are not influenced negatively or positively about what happened in the past.
‘It will be a good weekend for us if we can beat Everton. To lose points at home is never good.’
Last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium brought an end to our 12 game unbeaten run, but having not had a midweek fixture to contend with, training in the build-up to tomorrow’s game has been extremely productive.
‘We have to work hard to be back at our level so it was a good week because we could train with all the players together,’ Mourinho explained.
‘We didn’t have the situation of one group that played and one group that didn’t play. Everyone trained together and that’s important.’
With tomorrow’s game kicking off at lunchtime, we have an opportunity to apply some pressure on the teams currently in pursuit, and Mourinho is looking forward to opening this weekend’s round of Premier League fixtures.
‘I like it,’ he said. ‘You wake up and think immediately about the game. You’re not waiting in a hotel room for the game to arrive; wake up, eat something, team meeting and then go to the game and play. After that, if you’ve done your job, you can enjoy the other games.’