Chelsea may be without firebrand striker Diego Costa in a top-bill midweek match against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, but Jose Mourinho isn’t letting that dampen his expectations.
The feisty Spain striker was willing to fight fire with fire on Saturday against Sunderland in a goalless draw, elbowing Wes Brown and drawing a booking.
That yellow card, coming after he avoided a caution for his kick at John O’Shea, was his fifth of the season, meaning Didier Drogba or Loic Remy must take his place against Spurs.
“We don’t cry about injured or suspended players. He is suspended so he can rest and be ready for Newcastle at the weekend,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said.
“We will use Remy and Drogba against Tottenham. They will have the opportunity to start the game.”
Chelsea defender Gary Cahill, meanwhile, claims his side’s superior mental strength could be the decisive factor in the Premier League title race.
As Mourinho’s team get set to host London rivals Tottenham, they look to cement their lead at the top of the table after extending their unbeaten run to 20 matches in all competitions against combative Sunderland.
That stalemate at the Stadium of Light marked the first time Chelsea had failed to score this season and only the third time they had failed to take all three points from a league fixture in the current campaign.
But, rather than dwell on those rare negatives, England international Cahill took heart from the way Chelsea went toe to toe with fired-up Sunderland in a bruising battle.
Chelsea refused to be intimidated by Sunderland’s aggressive approach and Cahill believes that solidity and togetherness is a vast improvement on last season, when they occasionally tossed away points against inferior but committed opponents.
“I think we are a different side to last year, not just personnel, but mentally I think we are different,” Cahill said.
“They made it a scrap, but we matched that and managed to play our football as well.
“When teams sit back and get back in that shape, it’s very tough. We saw that last year and this was no different.
“But in these sorts of games, if you don’t get the breakthrough, it’s important we don’t lose the game, and it’s a point away from home.”
History suggests Chelsea should have few problems maintaining or improving on their healthy six-point advantage over second placed Manchester City.
Tottenham have failed to win on any of their previous 27 visits to the Bridge in all competitions – a barren run stretching back to Gary Lineker’s late winner in west London in February 1990.
But Mauricio Pochettino’s team will make the short trip across the English capital buoyed by their 2-1 win over Everton.
With a series of recent disappointing home results having sparked an angry response from the White Hart Lane faithful, Tottenham could have crumbled when Kevin Mirallas put Everton ahead on Sunday.
But Christian Eriksen and Roberto Soldado scored to give Spurs a much-needed win – their third in a row in all competitions – and Harry Kane is confident the morale-boosting result, combined with the absence of Costa, gives his side a good chance of finally ending their dismal record at the Bridge.
“We’re coming off three wins in a row now in all competitions, so we’ll take that confidence into the game on Wednesday,” Kane said.
“We’re looking to get the result. Obviously Chelsea are going to be trying to do the same at home, but they are missing their main man up front. So they have to change a few things, and we’re feeling good.
“The Chelsea game is not the be-all or end-all, but it would add to the great momentum we have at the moment if we could beat them.
“That is what we want to do and we will give ourselves the best possible chance.”
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