Jose Mourinho confirmed goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is back in the squad after three months out injured for Saturday’s home match against Bournemouth, as the Chelsea manager hopes the under-pressure champions are finally turning the corner.
The Belgian goalkeeper has not played since the 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on August 29 because of a knee injury, but Mourinho hinted he may start on Saturday, as he described the 23-year-old as the best goalkeeper in the world.
“Courtois is selected (in the squad),” Mourinho said. “I didn’t tell them (if he will start), so they must be the ones to know. But he’s selected.
“Courtois is Courtois. To miss Courtois for a couple of matches, we knew we had good protection in a good goalkeeper (like Asmir Begovic).
“But to lose your best goalkeeper for three months, and 19 matches in all competitions … 19 matches without the best goalkeeper in the world. It was hard for us. Now we are again in a super situation by having the best and a very good one. I don’t know (if he starts).
“I have to speak with him and make a decision. But, sooner or later, he will be my number one. If not tomorrow, then against Porto (on Wednesday).”
“Courtois was our goalkeeper all last season, and we know how fundamental he was for us. So it’s very important that we have him back.”
Mourinho also confirmed John Terry, Ramires and Radamel Falcao are all still out, but that Nemanja Matic is available despite having to wear a face mask because of a double fracture to his nose and cheek suffered in Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Tottenham Hotspur.
– No Costa doubts -Diego Costa furiously threw a bib to the ground during that game once it became apparent that he would not be coming on as a sub, but the Chelsea manager played down the ongoing controversy, insisting there are no doubts over the striker’s future.
“For me, no question marks. Always played. Was on the bench one match, which is more than natural. No problems. No problems at all.”
Mourinho also laughed off the pictures of Costa emerging from the team’s Christmas party at 3.15am on Thursday morning, pointing out how it was odd that he was one of only three players to be photographed despite 25 attending.
“I think the paparazzi had a problem with their memory cards (at the Christmas party). There were 25 players inside and they only got three.”
Mourinho added that the Christmas party had allowed the players to unwind.
“They consulted me about the moment to do it (party), and I told them a bit far from Christmas because Christmas will be really busy. So they chose this week. I agreed with them. And the next morning in training everyone was really good. They did well. They needed that. But the paparazzi was not the best.”
Mourinho meanwhile feels that last week’s results – in which Chelsea kept three consecutive clean sheets for the first time this season – can set up a strong December, and signal the team turning the corner.
“I have to be cautious because the Premier League is the Premier League, and you don’t know what’s waiting for you around the corner. But the reality is the run was really bad and we were really strong as a club, as a technical staff, as a squad of players, to cope with that and try and go over it.
“Bad results, but with good performances, we kept our faith, stability and belief. And then, finally, last week we got three positive results in a row.
“Let’s try and build on that. December can be a good month. We play four matches at home, three in the Premier League and one in the Champions League.
“We go away against two of the top three teams, United and Leicester, matches where you have nothing to lose and everything to win. So December can be a good month.”