Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea's firepower fills Mourinho full of belief

By Matt McGeehan

Jose Mourinho has confidence in the strength of his Chelsea squad ahead of the season curtain-raiser against Arsenal at Wembley tomorrow.

The Premier League champions face the FA Cup winners in the Community Shield, with Mourinho refusing to discuss the Blues' bid to prise defender John Stones from Everton.

The Chelsea boss is short of options in defence, but is optimistic about his strikeforce, which has seen Radamel Falcao come in despite a below-par season on loan at Manchester United from Monaco last term.

Diego Costa was a key addition ahead of Chelsea's title-winning season, but cover was lacking when the Spain striker's fragile hamstrings flared up.

Costa is fit for Wembley despite withdrawing from the pre-season clash with Barcelona in the United States.

Mourinho said: "I believe (Costa is free of injury), but I'm not worried about it. I go match after match.

"I have three top strikers. If one is injured we have two. No concerns, no protections. It's a position where we're very strong."

Mourinho was asked three questions on Stones: for an update on Chelsea's pursuit of the England defender, whether a new bid had been rejected by Everton and whether Chelsea expect to go in for him again. Each time he replied "no".

"I don't speak about players from other clubs, especially now the competition is starting," the Portuguese added.

"It starts for us and Arsenal now and next week it starts for everyone. It's enough for me."

Chelsea are trying to sign a left-back as they have only Cesar Azpilicueta following Filipe Luis' return to Atletico Madrid.

But Mourinho would not be drawn on a move for Ausberg's Baba Rahman.

Falcao and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic are Chelsea's only summer captures at first-team level, the latter a replacement for Petr Cech.

Cech left for Arsenal after 11 years after falling behind Thibaut Courtois in the pecking order in a move sanctioned by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

Asked about facing Cech, Mourinho said: "I did it already. Inter against Chelsea. No problem."

It has been argued that Cech has filled a problem position for the Gunners.

"I don't agree with you," Mourinho added. "I never felt weaknesses in their keepers."

Mourinho has not lost in 13 matches as Chelsea manager against Arsene Wenger's Arsenal.

Mourinho again played down the personal record, saying: "That doesn't matter Arsenal, and doesn't matter the manager.

"I just want my teams, my clubs to try to get the best possible results. That's the only thing that matters.

"In football you can win, lose or draw. In this case you have to be ready for everything.

"I never made my victories over Arsenal an explosion of happiness or special pride. I will not make a drama if we lose one day.

"(But) we always try to play for a result and the Community Shield gives motivation, it's different than just a friendly or just a summer tournament. I would say it's the start of the competition."

Mourinho has a full squad to select from, with defender Gary Cahill also available despite a blow to the nose against Barca.

The Chelsea boss also fired a warning at Richard Scudamore after the Premier League chief executive said English clubs would not be given favourable fixture scheduling to aid their Champions League ambitions.

"We have four teams in the Champions League, we will not make a big noise," Mourinho said. "But one day when England has only three teams in the Champions League people will wake up."

Belfast Telegraph


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