Jose Mourinho today confirmed Ashley Cole will not be given the chance to face Arsenal – just days after he attended his former club’s Christmas party. Cole has lost his position as a first team regular during Mourinho’s second spell in charge and will be left out in favour of Cesar Azplicueta, who will start Monday night’s game once again.
While Mourinho has consistently stated that Cole has been sidelined purely for tactical reasons, the Chelsea boss gave a strong hint that he is not happy with the England international for fraternising with Arsenal at their Christmas party on Wednesday night.
He said: “I have my opinion but I keep it for myself. It was a free day for them, so I’m not a father. I’m a manager. I can control what they do when they are with me. I cannot control what they do when they are not with me.
“I don’t want to comment. I have my opinion, but I keep it to myself. I’ve not even given my opinion to Ashley Cole because I don’t have to.
“It was his free day, his free night. The next morning we didn’t train. We only trained in the afternoon, so I have no right to make a comment. I won’t. I just have my opinion.”
When asked if he will start on Monday night, he added: “He will be on the bench or at home.
“I play (Branislav) Ivanovic right-back and Azpilicueta left-back, and John Terry. I have to make a decision between (Gary) Cahill and David (Luiz).
“From the beginning, Ashley is not playing. Unless… today is Friday, the game is Monday. Something can happen in between. Normally, I’ll play Azpilicueta at left-back.”
Mourinho has never been on the losing side against Arsene Wenger during his time in English football so far and a victory will see Chelsea go above their rivals in the table.
But Mourinho added: “It’s not me against Wenger. It’s my Chelsea against his Arsenal. That doesn’t play Monday. It has no influence, that stat. It means nothing for Monday.
“No (I don’t think Chelsea have a psychological advantage in the past). I just feel that we’ve played better, we deserved more, and we won these matches.
“In my time, I remember just one game where we were close to losing, a game at home (in 2006) where (Michael) Essien scored an equaliser in the last part of the game.
“Even at the Emirates (in 2007), playing with 10 men for 75 minutes, we played a fantastic match and drew 1-1. My memories are that, against them, we play very good matches. As a consequence, we have got good results.”
Chelsea beat Arsenal convincingly 2-0 in the Capital One Cup in October, but Mourinho also feels that won’t have a bearing on proceedings.
“Different competitions, different motivation, different responsibilities, different players in some cases,” he replied. “It’s still Arsenal, still Chelsea, still a London derby, first playing third, a big match, for sure.
“It’s a pity it’s not tomorrow because I’m ready and waiting to play the game. But not big conclusions to be drawn from the Capital Cup match.”