Chelsea 2 Swansea 2: Jose Mourinho backs Asmir Begovic with Manchester City game in view

Chelsea will certainly need to play far better than they have done in the past week

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The Independent Football

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 judgements, but it is certainly true to say that if Chelsea play on Sunday like they did in this 2-2 draw they will lose.

Before then they must decide whether to appeal against Thibaut Courtois’ red card. He was sent off for a professional foul on Bafetimbi Gomis where the clarity of the goalscoring opportunity was debatable.

Presuming Courtois is suspended, Begovic will start, and his record for Stoke City – 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 31 August because if my club gives me a keeper on 31 August 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 or 4-1. But I don’t make a drama of it.”

Garry Monk was delighted with his players after a performance of bravery and ambition. Jonjo Shelvey was excellent, playing the pass through to Gomis which led to Courtois’ dismissal, and Gomis’s equaliser from the penalty spot.

The Swansea manager said after the game that he had spoken to Shelvey at length this summer 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 we all had a good chat,” Monk said. “Jonjo is one of those characters that needs pushing on. I said a few things last season to see what reaction I might get, and I got the right reaction. He realises how serious it is at this level. He is maturing and we need to keep on top of him. Hopefully, we will see an even better Jonjo.”

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