MOURINHO: DANGEROUS GAME
Jose Mourinho is aiming for his 100th Barclays Premier League win when we take on Manchester United on Sunday and, speaking ahead of the game, he emphasised the importance of paying our opponents due respect, as well as indicating Frank Lampard could make his return from injury.
The manager's weekly press conference at Cobham was held slightly earlier than usual and covered a whole host of topics, including the arrival of Nemanja Matic, a loan move for Ryan Bertrand and squad news.
Firstly, however, Mourinho addressed the game itself, as well as the possibility of winning his 100th league game as Chelsea manager.
'Read the match programme, my notes,' he said. 'I start by saying we don't play against a team that are 11 points behind the leader, we play against the champions, we play against Manchester United.
'That's the way I start my notes in the programme and that's exactly the way I feel. I've been in the game a long time, I've played dozens and dozens of derbies and classic matches, games between the big teams and that's what experience says. On many occasions, the team that looks to be in the most difficult situation appears stronger in the match, that's why I consider this game especially dangerous.
'It's the next match and if I can do it in the next match it's better than doing it in three, four or five matches away. My 100th victory in the Premier League with Chelsea is going to happen; is it against United, West Ham or later? I don't know, what I know is that the number will arrive.
'We are going to try to do it against Man United because now we play two matches at home, after playing two matches away, and we have to try to go for the six points.'
The competitive nature of this season's league shows no signs of letting up, with all of the top six recording victories last weekend, and the Portuguese believes the current trend is set to continue.
'If you look at the table, Arsenal and Manchester City are the top two teams. Man City have different ammunition but we are not far,' he said. 'Liverpool have a fantastic chance to do it, it's almost unique the fact they are not playing in European competition.
'United are United, 11 points to the leader is quite a lot but I believe they will push all the way. The way this league is at the moment, I think for all the big teams the first objective is to secure a place in the top four because it will be difficult to get it.'
Matic became the club's latest acquisition earlier this week when he completed his move back to Stamford Bridge from Benfica.
For Mourinho, the timing of the capture of the midfielder was extremely significant, and he went on to give an update on two other players.
'I'm happy Matic came now because it gives him five or six months, so the beginning of next season is not the beginning for him,' said the Chelsea manager. 'He'll be with the team in this moment of evolution, he'll be here in this moment of building a team we want for many, many years.
'I'm happy he came in this window, not because we desperately need him, because our squad has good balance, but in terms of our future and the way we analyse the squad. His profile, as a player is the perfect one.
'He' a good player, a young player and he needs to play. At this moment, my options at left-back are Ashley Cole and Cesar Azpilicueta, so for Ryan we felt, and he agrees totally, that he needs to play, so he's going to Aston Villa until the end of the season.'
The Portuguese was then asked to provide an assessment of John Terry's form so far this season.
'In his case the numbers say everything. He's played every minute since the first game against Hull City in the Premier League, every minute of every match, good performances, stable performances, no injuries or suspensions so he's having a great season,' Mourinho explained.
'He's doing more than enough to start the game against Man United on Sunday, the biggest game you can imagine. He's going to start and he's going to be the captain, so that says everything about the way he's playing, the way he's fighting to keep his position and the way he's fighting to deserve a new contract. Everything comes naturally, without headlines and without any kind of pressure. Naturally it will happen.'
With thoughts turning back towards Sunday's game, the question of the availability of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney arose, but both players have subsequently been ruled out of the game by David Moyes. Mourinho then offered some words of encouragement to his opposite number.
'I'd prefer them to play,' he said. 'The best thing is to play against the best players at the maximum of their potential. We did that when we went to Old Trafford, they played Rooney and Van Persie together and that was the best thing for us and the game. For us, the focus, concentration and motivation is bigger when they are there so I hope they are.
'I don't think there is a reason to have sympathy [for Moyes], he has a fantastic job and he's very stable. The club gave him incredible trust when they chose him to be the next Man United manager after Sir Alex.
'It's a club with a fantastic culture, they believe in stability and the power of the manager. They believe in offering support to the manager, so I don't think there's a reason for David to be in trouble. I think he will have at least three, four or five years to build a team and reach success.'
The press conference was brought to a conclusion with the Blues boss providing an injury update, revealing some positive news for Chelsea fans ahead of a big game.
'Frank Lampard has been training all week with the team,' he reported. Branislav Ivanovic hasn't had one single training session. Today he will, I don't believe he can play, but Lampard I think he can.
'Matic will not start the game, I have to show respect to my other players who are doing well. I don't think it's the right message for them that a new player comes immediately and plays, so I'm not playing him from the beginning.'
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- A clip from the press conference can be viewed above (subject to registration) with the full conference available now via the channel's online access.