Chelsea V Everton at Stamford Bridge : Match Preview
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Low-key Mourinho keeps counsel
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho kept his counsel ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with Everton after making a habit of throwing verbal barbs in the direction of his rivals in recent weeks.
Mourinho was less than his usual effusive self when questioned prior to Saturday's match against the Toffees, answering at length only when directly asked about Chelsea, who have John Terry available again but are without David Luiz.
Chelsea enter this weekend's fixtures top of the Premier League by one point from Arsenal and two from Manchester City, who have a game in hand.
Asked about City and Arsenal's European travails, both losing 2-0 in their Champions League last-16 first-leg clashes, Mourinho would only consider his side's tie with Galatasaray.
"My Champions League starts Wednesday," he said.
Asked the potential impact on the Premier League title race of their rivals' defeat, the Portuguese added: "I play Wednesday and I concentrate on that."
On the title race, Mourinho, who maintains Chelsea's approach is only game-by-game, said: "The table is there. You can look at the table and see how the table is.
"We are top of the league but we can be second if Man City wins the match they have in hand.
"If we win tomorrow we keep the same position."
Following his description of Arsene Wenger as "a specialist in failure" last week and the Frenchman's riposte that he was "embarrassed for him (Mourinho)", the Portuguese declined the opportunity to respond in order to avoid a continuation of the tit-for-tat exchange.
Wayne Rooney was a summer transfer target for Mourinho, but now appears poised to commit his future to Manchester United with a contract reportedly worth B#300,000 a week.
"I don't react," Mourinho added.
Rooney is now managed by David Moyes, who has been succeeded at Everton by Roberto Martinez.
The sixth-placed Toffees are three points better off than Moyes' United, last season's champions, with a game in-hand.
Asked his thoughts on Martinez's tenure at Everton, Mourinho said: "I don't comment."
Everton's position in the table is in part due to the performances of on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, who has netted nine Premier League goals but has recently been out with an ankle problem.
Mourinho declined to comment on the Belgium striker, whom he has not spoken to of late and is ineligible to face his parent club.
"I don't speak about Romelu till the end of the season," the Chelsea boss said.
"Until the end of the season he is an Everton player."
One of Chelsea's three Premier League losses this season was at Goodison Park in September, but Mourinho does not expect that to have an impact.
"We think we can beat them because we believe in ourselves," he said.
"We are not influenced negatively or positively about what happened in the past."
Roberto Martinez expects the trip to Stamford Bridge to provide a barometer for Everton's top-four hopes.
Martinez views the Toffees as in a four-way battle with Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United for fourth place and a spot in next year's Champions League.
Everton have a lot of catching up to do given they are eight points behind their city rivals and five adrift of Tottenham, although they do have a game in hand on both.
Defeat by Spurs in their last Premier League match was particularly costly, with Martinez's side dominating most of the match but losing out to an Emmanuel Adebayor goal.
The Spaniard wants Everton to learn from that against Chelsea, who top the table and have dropped just four points at home all season.
Martinez said: "The game we have at the weekend is going to tell us a lot.
"It's important that as a team we keep working, we keep developing and keep getting stronger, but only when you get in a match against teams that are competing in the Champions League do you get a clear idea how far away you are.
"Stamford Bridge is one of the hardest places to go and get three points, and I think it's going to be a terrific measurement for ourselves after the disappointment that we had at White Hart Lane.
"It's something we need to correct, to use that experience that when you are the better side, you need to win the football game.
"Chelsea have got terrific home form with this manager, and not just this season. It's an incredible challenge but probably internally we need that."
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