Cesc Fabregas will return to the team for tomorrow’s game against Everton, a fixture Jose Mourinho expects to be very difficult as we seek to maintain our seven-point advantage at the Barclays Premier League’s summit.
The big news from the manager’s pre-match media conference at Cobham was that Fabregas will be back in the side after fully recovering from a hamstring injury sustained in our Capital One Cup semi-final second leg victory over Liverpool last month.
With the final third of the season nearly upon us, Mourinho also assessed the state of play at the top of the table. He commented too on the continued absence of the suspended Diego Costa and recalled our visit to Goodison Park, back in August.
First, though, the boss was asked whether he had any injury concerns ahead of Everton’s visit to west London.
‘We have only Mikel injured, with a little problem in his knee,’ he reported. ‘He’s the only one who’s not in conditions to play.
‘After that we have a couple of little things that we have to control until tomorrow but normally [they are] not a problem.’
The next query related directly to Fabregas and whether he would be back in the team.
‘Yes, he will be,’ was the manager’s answer.
‘I want to have every player but the team played without him and we coped with the situation. Obviously to have him back is important for us.
‘We don’t have the player that is suspended,’ continued Mourinho, who noted during the conference that another team’s player might have been banned for having an elbow out this weekend (pictured top).
‘We have to stick with Didier and Loic Remy. Again, we need the suspended player but we coped without him and we got results without him.
‘With him it could have been even better, but I trust my people; we always decide not to speak about players that cannot play. We try to forget it and give confidence to the other people.
‘We had two very difficult matches against City and Villa, we have a third one now against Everton and we have to try to do the best and try to get the maximum points possible.
‘I don’t look to the table or to the number of points, I look to the team and their quality, and they are a very good team.’
Romelu Lukaku is the Toffees’ regular forward following his permanent move in the summer. Mourinho explained Chelsea better than anyone know he is a good player, and that he will be a difficult opponent tomorrow night.
What the manager doesn’t expect is a rerun of our thrilling 6-3 victory at Goodison Park earlier this season.
‘That game was a strange game with a strange result,’ he pointed out. ‘It’s not even a game to analyse because it won’t be repeated. Sometimes results or matches go in a direction where it’s difficult to repeat. The game was everything but normal.’
That goal-laden success in Merseyside was one of 17 league victories we have recorded this season, helping us establish a seven-point advantage over closest challengers Man City. Mourinho reiterated what he said after the game at Villa on Saturday – that in this country a seven-point lead is not a big one – but he did explain why he would rather be leading from the front.
‘When you chase you have to win and at the same time you have to wait for your opponent to lose points. In fact, every weekend, you play two matches – your match and the other match. When you are top you play only one match and if you win, fine. I prefer to be top of the league.
‘For example, against Aston Villa, I was celebrating my victory after the match. I didn’t even know the result of Man City.
‘I’m confident we can win tomorrow. We go game after game, not thinking too far [ahead]. Seven points with 14 matches is a long way to go. We will try to be good tomorrow, play well, and try to win in front of our supporters.’