Low-key Mourinho keeps counsel
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho kept his counsel ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with Everton after making a habit of throwing verbal barbs in the direction of his rivals in recent weeks.
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Mourinho was less than his usual effusive self when questioned prior to Saturday's match with Everton, answering at length only when directly asked about Chelsea, who have John Terry available again but are without David Luiz.
Chelsea enter this weekend's fixtures top of the Premier League by one point from Arsenal and two from Manchester City, who have a game in hand.
Asked about City and Arsenal's European travails, both losing 2-0 in their Champions League last-16 first-leg clashes, Mourinho would only consider his side's tie with Galatasaray.
"My Champions League starts Wednesday," he said.
Asked the potential impact on the Premier League title race of their rivals' defeat, the Portuguese added: "I play Wednesday and I concentrate on that."
On the title race, Mourinho, who maintains Chelsea's approach is only game-by-game, said: "The table is there. You can look at the table and see how the table is.
"We are top of the league but we can be second if Man City wins the match they have in hand.
"If we win tomorrow we keep the same position."
Following his description of Arsene Wenger as "a specialist in failure" last week and the Frenchman's riposte that he was "embarrassed for him (Mourinho)", the Portuguese declined the opportunity to respond in order to avoid a continuation of the tit-for-tat exchange.
Wayne Rooney was a summer transfer target for Mourinho, but now appears poised to commit his future to Manchester United with a contract reportedly worth £300,000 a week.
"I don't react," Mourinho added.
Rooney is now managed by David Moyes, who has been succeeded at Everton by Roberto Martinez.
The sixth-placed Toffees are three points better off than Moyes' United, last season's champions, with a game in-hand.
Asked his thoughts on Martinez's tenure at Everton, Mourinho said: "I don't comment."
Everton's position in the table is in part due to the performances of on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, who has netted nine Premier League goals but has recently been out with an ankle problem.
Mourinho declined to comment on the Belgium striker, whom he has not spoken to of late and is ineligible to face his parent club.
"I don't speak about Romelu till the end of the season," the Chelsea boss said.
"Until the end of the season he is an Everton player."
One of Chelsea's three Premier League losses this season was at Goodison Park in September, but Mourinho does not expect that to have an impact.
"We think we can beat them because we believe in ourselves," he said.
"We are not influenced negatively or positively about what happened in the past."
With Terry back after missing three games Chelsea's defence is likely to be reinforced, even in the absence of Luiz, who has a concern in his hip/groin region.
The former England captain's last eight appearances saw Chelsea concede twice - the Blues conceded three in his absence - and Mourinho is pleased to have Terry back alongside Gary Cahill in defence.
The Portuguese, who last month described Terry as the Premier League's leading defender this season, said: "He's not a player that makes a lot of mistakes. He's a player that normally has this basic level of performance that gives stability to the team.
"Every team, especially a team with lots of young people in other areas, needs stability from the back and that stability from the back is something that is keeping us in a good in the league.
"Now John is back and he plays tomorrow again with Gary. This pair is giving us very good stability in the team."
January signings Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah, ineligible for Wednesday's match in Istanbul, are likely to feature, with Mourinho hoping Luiz is available then.
Mourinho was asked about further reports linking Thibaut Courtois with a permanent move from Chelsea, with the goalkeeper attracting admirers after impressing during his third successive season on loan at Atletico Madrid.
"He has two more years of contract, so he's easy to keep," Mourinho said.