Jose Mourinho addressed the media at Stamford Bridge, rather than Cobham, ahead of tomorrow’s London derby against Tottenham Hotspur, with the Blues boss stressing the importance of taking points off one of those teams competing for a place in the top four.
The Portuguese covered a range of topics in front of the assembled journalists, and first was an update regarding the fitness of three players.
Eden Hazard played 28 minutes of Belgium’s midweek draw against Ivory Coast, but picked up a knock shortly after coming on.
Mourinho, however, reported he is fit to play tomorrow, although Ashley Cole will miss the game, while there are also doubts over whether David Luiz will recover in time from the injury he sustained in Brazil’s 5-0 win over South Africa.
‘Hazard is good, we have some other problems, we don’t know if they can recover, but Hazard looks good, no problem,’ said the Portuguese.
‘It was good for me that Ashley played part of the game [for England], he hasn’t played for a long time. He didn’t play 90 minutes but he played 45 and that’s good. Unfortunately he got an injury in training yesterday and he’s one of the players that is out for tomorrow.
‘It’s a lateral ligament injury, impossible for him to play tomorrow and we would say between eight and 10 days.
‘We always want to respect the desire and pride of the players to play with their national teams, so many times they go to the national team and come with problems, David Luiz is one of those examples.
‘He was injured with us, he missed some important matches, for example he wasn’t ready for the Galatasaray game. He goes to the national team and comes back injured, but that’s our profile of player and our profile of club.’
The visitors head to Stamford Bridge looking for their first away win against the Blues since February 1990, when Gary Lineker snatched the points with a late header.
Mourinho expects a stern test, but believes a home win would leave us in a strong position with regards to qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
‘We want to try to win and I believe they will do the same,’ he said. ‘We want our top-four position safe and, at the moment, the biggest threat is Tottenham because they are fifth, the closest team to the top four.
‘If we can get a result against them we can say, almost for sure, our top-four objective is going in a very good direction.
‘I don’t know,’ he added when asked about our home record against Tottenham. ‘Maybe it’s a coincidence because Tottenham are always a good team and a difficult opponent.
‘I don’t remember in my previous years having an easy match against Tottenham, so it’s a very difficult game.
‘I just say we have to try to win the next match, it doesn’t matter about the opponent, stadium or competition. Nothing is hidden, tomorrow we want to try to win the game, maybe we won’t win but the objective is that we are going to try to win.’
The Chelsea manager went on to explain how Tim Sherwood’s ability to alter the shape of his side from game to game makes planning difficult.
‘In the last two months I would say they played a couple of matches with 4-4-2, the game against Cardiff and the second leg against Dnipro,’ he said.
‘In all the other games they just played with Adebayor up front. I don’t know what they are going to do but clearly they are jumping between 4-3-3, 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1. They have that capacity, lots of good players and lots of options, so the manager can jump from situation to situation without problems.’
With many of his players having been away on international duty, it’s been a relatively quiet week for the manager at Cobham, and he admits having just a couple of days to prepare for a big game is far from ideal.
‘It was just a week, not double fixtures, just one match, so I only had to wait for them for a few days,’ he explained.
‘It wasn’t so boring, but after a game on Wednesday and some of them going to other continents we cannot train properly, we just have to prepare for the match the best way we can.’
Our win at Fulham last weekend allowed us to extend our lead over Arsenal, who were beaten at Stoke City, and Manchester City, who were not in action due to their Capital One Cup final commitments.
The news was dominated, however, by an incident involving Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew during their game against Hull City, with Mourinho providing his thoughts on the issue.
‘I spoke with Alan a couple of hours after the incident, he knows he made a mistake and he knows he has to pay with a punishment,’ said the Blues boss.
‘For me, what’s more important is that he’s a good friend and a great guy, I prefer to stay with that than the mistake. He made a mistake and he will pay for the mistake.’