Belfast Telegraph

Begovic's presence will ease Courtois suspension worry

By Jack Pitt-Brooke

This is already a big week for Chelsea and Jose Mourinho. On Sunday they play Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, for the first big game of the season, where Asmir Begovic is likely to make his full debut.

Chelsea will certainly need to play far better than they have done in the past week. They followed their limp defeat against Arsenal in the Community Shield with a patchy display on Saturday, in which Swansea City played the better football.

It is too early to make any judgments, but it is certainly true to say that if Chelsea play on Sunday like they did in this 2-2 draw, they will lose.

Oscar opened the scoring for Chelsea in the 23rd minute before Andre Ayew replied in the 29th with a debut goal.

Parity didn't last long, however, as Federico Fernandez deflected into his own net just 60 seconds later. Thibaut Courtois was then sent off for a professional foul just inside the box on Bafetimbi Gomis in the 55th minute where the clarity of the goalscoring opportunity was debatable. Gomis tucked away the spot-kick and Chelsea must decide whether or not to appeal the dismissal.

Presuming Courtois is suspended, Begovic will start at City, and his record for Stoke - as well as his 40-minute debut on Saturday evening - suggests that is nothing to worry about for Chelsea. He is a very accomplished goalkeeper and Mourinho was glowing in his endorsement of the Bosnia international after the game.

"Thibaut and Asmir are two fantastic keepers," Mourinho said. "My club did very well by getting a keeper on time and not on August 31 because if my club gives me a keeper on August 31 we have a problem not just for today (Saturday) but also for the next match. Unless the people understand that it's not a red card and they clear the suspension."

Mourinho was not in an especially good mood after the game, saying he "expects the referees to do their job well", and even criticising his own medical staff for treating Eden Hazard and depriving the team of a player when they were already down to 10.

"I could clearly see it was not a problem," Mourinho said. "Without any doubt, they went to the pitch and left the team with nine men. Without any doubt, if you are involved in the game then you have to understand the game."

Mourinho's analysis of his players was slightly gentler. "We were not perfect," he said. "If you are perfect in the first half then you are not winning 2-1, you are winning 3-1 or 4-1. But I don't make a drama of it."

Garry Monk was delighted with his players. Jonjo Shelvey in particular was excellent

The Swansea manager said after the game that he had spoken to Shelvey about his application and this performance looked like it might be the reward for that.

"We got his father in and his agent in and had a chat," Monk said. "Jonjo is one of those characters that needs pushing. I said a few things last season to see what reaction I might get, and I got the right reaction. Hopefully, we will see an even better Jonjo."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph