Chelsea vs Crystal Palace: Jose Mourinho taking no chances in case red cards strike again

The reigning champions will be without John Terry this weekend

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The Independent Football

Jose Mourinho has been coaching his Chelsea side to play with 10 men this week, after having had a man sent off in two of their three Premier League games so far.

Chelsea host Crystal Palace this afternoon and Mourinho will be hoping for an improved defensive performance having conceded seven goals in their three matches. While Mourinho said he did not want to blame his defenders – “a good team defends as a team” –  he described those goals as being the result of individual errors, which would be reduced over time.

Thibaut Courtois and John Terry were sent off, though, against Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion respectively. Mourinho said that it was “not normal” to have two red cards in three games and, in case it happens again on Saturday, he has been practising with one man down.

“We did a few things,” Mourinho explained at his press conference yesterday afternoon. “We defended with nine [outfield] men. We did other tactical aspects to try to improve the team, but I did not just work the defenders, I worked the team.”

The fear of another red card in the near future prompted the tactical sessions at Cobham this week. “I have to prepare my team for different situations, and it’s better to do us with 10, against the others with 11, than us with 11 and the others with 10,” Mourinho explained. “So I didn’t practise yet 11 against 10. If I go with the percentage and probabilities, in three matches it’s happened twice. So there’s a big possibility. But hopefully not.”

Mourinho explained his team’s uncharacteristically poor defensive record so far as being due to a combination of individual errors and high-performing opponents. “We had individual mistakes completely out of context with the games,” he said. “Man City, for example, I can say fantastically played [for their first goal]. The second goal was an individual mistake. The third goal, too, was out of context. Against West Brom, their first goal was fantastically played. An individual mistake for the second goal. Normally, individual mistakes are reduced. I trust the players, so I’m OK.”

 

Having seen his players in training this week, Mourinho tried to convey confidence about their form, saying that they had been “working well and hard” and had a “very good week”. He pointed to two recent spells during games during which he had been especially impressed.

“I like very much the second half against City, and our game with 10 outfield players at West Brom,” Mourinho said. “We scored three and could have scored five or six. I’m happy with the concentration, the focus, the way they use their exercises to improve collectively and individually.

“Maybe I’m wrong as football is unpredictable, but we are working well. I’m expecting a good game tomorrow.”

Those two spells – the second half against City, and the last 37 minutes at West Brom – were both spells when Terry, the Chelsea captain, was off the pitch. Terry was withdrawn at half-time against City, and sent off against West Brom. Mourinho revealed that he has been “training more than the others” this week because he is suspended. Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma are likely to continue at centre-back.

Mourinho said that he still hoped to sign one player before the transfer window shuts, although he would not comment on the club’s pursuit of John Stones after Everton rejected the young defender’s transfer request. Chelsea are more likely to sign Chinese defender Zhang Linpeng from Guangzhou Evergrande, although he would be loaned out if he did join.

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