English Premiership

Chelsea to gamble on Costa

2014-10-03 17:21
Diego Costa (AP)

London - Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho declared on Friday that his priority is to make the best use of top scorer Diego Costa, not protect the striker for the Spanish national team.

And he admitted that he fears the demands of playing two international games in four days could have an unhelpful effect on Costa's current hamstring problems.

Mourinho acknowledges that he will be taking a risk with Costa's fitness when he selects the striker to face Arsenal at Stamford Bridge this weekend.

The Portuguese says Costa is still struggling with the problem he sustained on international duty with Spain last month, when he was forced to return to his club after injuring himself against France.

Costa has once again been called up by his national side for their Euro 2016 qualifying games with Slovakia on October 9 and Luxembourg on October 12.

But Mourinho says he will start with Costa when the Premier League's two remaining unbeaten clubs meet on Sunday, despite the striker having played against Aston Villa last Saturday and Sporting Lisbon in mid-week.

"My reaction that he's in the Spanish squad is no reaction. It's something I could already imagine. It's not a surprise for me," Mourinho told his weekly press conference.

"Can he play three matches in a week? I think it's too much, but he's going to do that. Why is he going to do that? Because I'm not going to save him to be in perfect conditions for the national team.

"So, if he has a problem playing against Arsenal, he has a problem for Chelsea. This was a big week for us, three crucial matches, and I had to go with everybody in Lisbon.

"Against Arsenal, also an important match and the last one of this busy period, he plays."

Mourinho added: "He can play against Arsenal. He had this match in Lisbon and four days in between. He will be in OK conditions to play against Arsenal. What happens after that is not my responsibility.

"Probably I will pay the consequences of that after the international period, but I think about Arsenal. After that I take two days off for myself and then wait for them (the players) to come back."

The clash between the two London clubs will mark Cesc Fabregas's first meeting with his former side since returning to the Premier League with Chelsea this season.

And Mourinho claims Fabregas should be given a warm reception by the visiting fans because of his contribution to Arsenal before switching to Barcelona in 2011.

"Fabregas was, I don't say born, but almost made at Arsenal," Mourinho said. "The feeling should be a good feeling between the fans and him."

Arsenal's last visit to Stamford Bridge in March marked Arsene Wenger's 1,000th game in charge of the club, but ended in a humiliating 6-0 defeat.

The two managers had clashed before the game, with Mourinho dubbing Wenger a "specialist in failure" -- a reference to Arsenal's nine-year trophy drought, which came to an end when they won the FA Cup in May.

But Mourinho said he felt no need to apologise for his choice of words.

"I didn't get an apology. I don't apologise," he said. "My feeling about it is to forget it and to move forward without thinking about what happened. You don't need to apologise.

"Intelligent football people don't need that. Finish, move and let's go for another match with big responsibility for both of us.

"We manage two big clubs in London and we have a responsibility not to win, but to give a good match for the millions of fans both clubs have, and the billions of fans of the Premier League around the world, to have a big match with no problems."

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