Confidence high as Chels ea aim t o s tay unbeat en
LONDON — J osé M ourinho’s Chelsea will aim t o extend their unbeat en start to the P remier League season and inconvenience one of their ear ly ri vals when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge today.
Last weekend’s 11 draw at Manchester City ended Chelsea’s perfect start to their league campaign, but they remain at the head of the t able, thr ee points clear of Southampton and Villa.
Few people e xpected Villa t o figur e so prominently towards the top of the division, but having edged Championship side Bolton Wanderers 21 in the League C up on W ednesday, Chelsea ar e in the gr oove.
And with a number of senior play ers, including inf orm s triker Die go Costa, set to return to the lineup after being rested, confidence is running high among Mourinho’s pla yers.
“It’s great to have a winning mentality,” said c entreback Gary Cahill.
“If you have a couple of sticky results, it put s the pr essure on g oing int o games, but at the moment w e’re unbeaten, we’re going well, and we should have c onfidence, e specially pla ying in front of our o wn f ans at St amford Bridge.”
Mourinho used the opportunit y of Bolton’s visit t o gi ve a number of his fringe pla yers some muchneeded match action.
Filipe Luis made onl y his thir d appearance sinc e his £1 6 million (R292 million) move from Atletico Madrid.
The leftback has yet to start a league game as Mourinho continues to favour the rightf ooted C esar Azpilicuet a in the role, but Luis sa ys he has no c omplaints about having to wait for opportunities.
“It’s brilliant t o be at this club . It’s a gr eat f eeling,” he said.
“When y ou w ork with M ourinho, you have to know that the gr oup, the collective, is abo ve the indi vidual.
“We won the first four league games and dr ew the fifth. I ha ve nothing t o complain about.”
Ramires is doubtful to face Villa after the Brazilian midfielder suffered an adductor pr oblem ag ainst City.
Villa r emain without s tar s triker Christian Benteke, but he has returned to training following an Achilles injury and will be c onsidered f or next week end’s g ame ag ainst City.
The Belgian has missed the last five months, including the W orld C up.
“He’s getting closer. Next week we will see ho w he is f or the M an C ity game,” said manag er Paul Lambert.
“Christian’s all right. He’s had a good week of training under his belt. H e’s a natural athlete, but you don’t want him to break down. Everyone is happy to see him back. It’s been a long road for him.
“We’ve had a gr eat s tart without a recognised number nine and that will give everyone a lift. H e’s de sperate t o play, but it doe s not mak e c ommon sense risking him y et.”
Skipper R on V laar will mis s t oday due to a calf complaint, but a bug that saw the training ground closed on Monday has lifted with all players now recovered. — S apaAFP.