Ashely Cole to lose out as Jose Mourinho prepares to shuffle his defensive options
Chelsea boss hoping to continue his excellent record against Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger
Ashley Cole: likely to be confined to the bench at the Emirates when Chelsea visit Arsenal for a crucial London derby clash. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Ashley Cole: likely to be confined to the bench at the Emirates when Chelsea visit Arsenal for a crucial London derby clash. Photo: Adam Davy/PA .
Ashley Cole’s return to the Chelsea first-team will be short-lived after Jose Mourinho confirmed the England left-back will start on the bench in Monday’s derby against his former club, Arsenal, whose Christmas party the defender had attended in midweek.
Cole (above) was photographed at the venue in central London where Arsene Wenger’s squad held their party on Wednesday night, 24 hours after Chelsea had been beaten by Sunderland in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup.
The 33-year-old, who celebrated his birthday yesterday, had started the game at the Stadium of Light but will again be usurped by Cesar Azpilicueta at the Emirates.
Mourinho confirmed the Spain international had recovered from a kick which had prompted his substitution on Wearside after 70 minutes. Asked where that left Cole, the manager said: “On the bench or at home. He will not play from the beginning, no. I will play Ivanovic right-back and Azpilicueta left-back, and John Terry.
“I have to make a decision between Gahill and David Luiz]. From the beginning, Ashley is not playing. Unless ... well, today is Friday, the game is Monday. Something can happen in between. Normally, I’ll play Azpilicueta at left-back.”
Cole has not started a league game since the defeat at Newcastle in early November, when he was still suffering the effects of a rib injury, with Azpilicueta’s displays since being considered faultless by the management. The veteran left-back, however, is expected to play a role in the busy weeks ahead.
Mourinho was reluctant to address Cole’s presence at Libertine, alongside team-mates Ryan Bertrand and Andre Schurrle, and stressed the full-back had been free to use the day off granted by the management as he saw fit. He had had minimal involvement with the Arsenal squad’s celebrations, Chelsea’s players having also originally been due to attend the venue that evening only for the squad to postpone their own event until the new year.
“I have my opinion but I keep it for myself,” Mourinho said. “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’ve not even given my opinion to Ashley Cole because I don’t have to. It was his free day, his free night.”
Mourinho used his training session yesterday to work solely on defensive shape and tactics, having seen his team keep only one clean sheet in seven matches in all competitions.
He is hoping to extend his unbeaten run against sides managed by Wenger to 10 matches, and to move above Arsenal s in the process.
“It’s not me against Wenger, it’s my Chelsea against his Arsenal,” he said. “My memories are that, against them we play very good matches. As a consequence, we have good results.”