Chelsea vs Everton: Jose Mourinho explains his decision to start Petr Cech instead of Thibaut Courtois was due to his 'mental focus'

Cech replaced Courtois in the Chelsea line-up for the 1-0 victory over Everton

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The Independent Football

Jose Mourinho explained why he decided to drop Thibaut Courtois in favour of Petr Cech for Chelsea’s 1-0 Premier League victory over Everton on Wednesday night, citing a drop in the Belgian’s mental sharpness as the reason for bringing back the former No 1.

Mourinho is blessed to have two hugely talented goalkeepers at his disposal, and has already claimed to have the two best stoppers in the league within his squad. Courtois was briefly replaced during January after suffering a hand injury in the 5-3 defeat to Tottenham, but having returned in their recent games against Manchester City and Aston Villa, Cech returned for last night’s match at Stamford Bridge.

 

The Chelsea manager explained afterwards that his decision was to keep Courtois focused as much as it was to bring Cech’s personality into the squad.

“I played Cech because Courtois played consecutive matches and he needs to be very focused,” said Mourinho. “The focus must be permanent. Also a goalkeeper can be tired, not just physically, but in the nervous system, Petr was working very hard in training.

“His condition was magnificent and he was the best option for the team. Also in terms of leadership as John Terry was ill in the morning and was a doubt for the game until the last moment, so I needed Petr’s personality to communicate to the team - the decision was good.”

While Cech wasn’t given too much to do in his fifth clean sheet out of five Premier League appearances this season, Mourinho was quick to praise a fantastic save from former Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, who had a chance to put the Toffees ahead in the second half.

“He touched the ball twice,” Mourinho said. “He was a spectator.

“In the first half he made a good save, in the second there was a super save. This is what we need.

The Blues emerged from the match somewhat under a cloud after a late flare-up between the two sets of players, with allegations of an attempted bite from Branislav Ivanovic on James McArthur being rubbished by his manager – TV footage appeared to do the same.

Thibaut-Courtois.jpg
Thibaut Courtois warms up before the match with Everton with Petr Cech in the background

But what it did show was Chelsea’s ability to grind out victories from tough fixtures as well as the convincing and beautiful displays they put in earlier this season, and Mourinho explained how it was a performance of champions-in-waiting.

“I don’t remember a team being champions without a couple of victories in the last minute,” he said shortly after Willian’s late winner.

“Every time I won a league title we had a couple of matches we won in the last minute. It was the first time this season. So, so happy with the points.”

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