Chelsea creating new winning generation, says Mourinho

Runaway leaders can seal title with wins against Leicester and Crystal Palace

Mourinho believes a new core of experienced players is emerging at Chelsea. Photograph: Reuters / Eddie Keogh

Mourinho believes a new core of experienced players is emerging at Chelsea. Photograph: Reuters / Eddie Keogh

 

José Mourinho believes a new core of experienced players is emerging at Chelsea, taking over from such as the departed Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, though the manager insists he provides the only true leadership at Stamford Bridge.

The champions-elect travel to Leicester City tonight seeking to move 13 points clear at the top and to within one win of their first title in five years. Mourinho has relied on a relatively small pool of players in establishing that lead, with 11 of his squad having started at least 23 Premier League matches this season and three – John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic and Eden Hazard – ever-presents.

Terry’s display in the goalless draw at Arsenal on Sunday was rated his “best ever” by Mourinho, with the visitors ending with Didier Drogba on the pitch and Mikel John Obi and Petr Cech included on the bench.

Cech could start at Leicester because Thibaut Courtois has a slight hip problem.

Second Captains

“For those older guys it’s nice to belong to two different generations,” Mourinho said. “If we are champions this season then Petr, Didier, John and Mikel will have belonged to two generations of title winners. The same as me. It’s nice to belong to the history of a club in different moments, so it’s good for these older guys.

Natural process

“We lost that player but life goes on. You have to think about the future and to build, and you have to go with that. In Frank Lampard, Chelsea lost a match-winner with a number of goals he scored, a big character, a player without injuries who played every game, a player who beat every record in the Premier League – playing time, number of goals, goals from midfield – an absolutely amazing player. We lost him but life goes on.”

Lampard, like Cech, Drogba and Terry, had been a member of a group of players whose influence was established during Mourinho’s first tenure at the club, and who continued to exert considerable sway under his successors.

While Terry, in particular, remains an icon, Mourinho said the power base within the dressing room lies with him.

“Chelsea leadership is my leadership. For good and for bad. It’s not the players’ leadership – even on the pitch.”

Competitive environment

“Arsenal have a phenomenal squad. Thierry Henry said they need four top-class players but give to Arsenal four top-class players and I think they will again be The Invincibles. Manchester United have a phenomenal squad, including Ángel Di María who is not even playing. That shows the squad’s quality. Guardian Service

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