Jose Mourinho addressed the media this Friday lunchtime ahead of Chelsea’s short trip to Crystal Palace and spoke positively about the preparations, but also his frustration over the potential damage our previous away game has on the title challenge.
As the tight contest at the top of the league table continues, the team head to Selhurst Park tomorrow for our final London derby of the season with limited injury concerns.
Ashley Cole and Samuel Eto’o will not be part of the squad. Cole continues to recover from a knee ligament injury sustained in training at the start of the month, while Eto’o came off early in the win against Arsenal last weekend with a hamstring problem. Mourinho said although he does not think Eto’o will recover in time for the away game against Paris St-Germain on Wednesday, there is a possibility.
Marco van Ginkel will play a second game for the Chelsea Under-21 side this evening [Friday] as he regains fitness following a cruciate ligament reconstruction.
In his pre-match conference, Mourinho praised the high standard of performance when his players are tested in games, but he warns against comparing our remaining league fixtures with those of Manchester City and Liverpool and reaching the conclusion that we have the best run-in.
‘Ours is the most difficult because we play Champions League and they don’t,’ Mourinho pointed out.
‘We have to play with two or three days in between and we have to change our focus from the Premier League to the Champions League, go back to the Premier League and then go back to the Champions League for another big game against Paris St-Germain.
‘Liverpool keep going in their perfect season while we have no time to prepare matches like they have. It is a big advantage City have just now and an advantage Liverpool have had since the start of the season.’
The Merseysiders’ continued presence in the title shake-up does not surprise Mourinho at all and he still considers Arsenal as contenders despite the five points they dropped in their last two games.
‘It is more difficult because they are a few points behind the other three teams but mathematically it is open for Arsenal.
‘When you have six days a week to prepare a match [like Liverpool] and maybe train twice a day, you have conditions to improve that nobody else has. You can see clearly that some of their players are not paying the consequences of accumulation of fatigue, you see freshness, you see players of a certain age who don’t need to rest for matches. The season for them is the perfect season to do what they are doing.
‘If we win our seven matches we can win the league but I don’t know, it depends on Man City, not on us. We have to win the seven matches and we have to try one by one, match after match.
‘Tomorrow we are going to try to play well and to win the match, it is the only thing we can do, it is the only thing we have been doing for quite a long time. We are playing well and getting results. We have to be optimistic.’
Our win over Crystal Palace back in mid-December was a narrow one, the final score at Stamford Bridge 2-1 with all the goals coming in the first half – Ramires firing in the winner after Marouane Chamakh [injured this weekend] had equalised Fernando Torres’s opener.
‘It was difficult at home when Tony Pulis had only been there for about two weeks,’ said Mourinho.
‘Now after months of work and matches, they are much more a Tony Pulis team. They defend well, they defend a lot. They are very direct, very aggressive, they are very strong at set pieces and they have every quality that Pulis likes his teams have, so it is going to be very difficult but we had a good week and we worked and prepared hard for this match, not for the PSG match, and hopefully we can have a good result.’
Mourinho was asked by reporters to compare the coming game at Selhurst Park with the previous away game, at Aston Villa when the Blues were denied by a 1-0 win for the lower-table side. He was clear no parallels should be drawn.
‘What happened in the defeat against Aston Villa I never accept. I have a lot of experience in football and I learn a lot of things, and one of the things I learn is that you can win and you can lose and if you lose in the right way you have to move on, try not to lose again and try to learn from the mistakes, but I never learn from and I never accept losing that way.
‘I accept and learn how to lose because of the bad performance or because the opponent was better. I learn to lose when the referee makes a mistake because we can also lose with my mistake. I learn everything.
‘The only thing I didn’t learn is to lose with that kind of refereeing performance because it is not a mistake, it is a performance.’
He was asked if he would look back especially on the Villa result should Chelsea miss the title by a narrow margin.
‘Other matches we lost because we didn’t play well, because the opponent played much better than us. Against Stoke we had chances to kill the game and we didn’t. Against Newcastle in the second half they played much better than us. If you go to the other matches you find natural reasons to lose the match. If you go the Villa match, it is difficult.’
Though training has focused on Palace rather than looking further ahead to Paris, Mourinho did respond to a question on whether press reports that our next Champions League opponents are interested in signing Oscar and Eden Hazard are irritating to him.
‘It is no problem,’ he said.
‘If there is Financial Fair Play they don’t have money to buy them. If there is no Financial Fair Play and they throw away something crazy, 300 million for both, then I think Chelsea has to think about it!’
– Chelsea TV’s ‘Wherever They May Be’ pre-match show with exclusive build-up begins at 2.30pm