Arsenal Boss Arteta Backs Temporary Substitutes For Head Injuries

Manchester City’s assistant coach Mikel Arteta takes warm up ahead of the English League Cup quarter-final football match between Oxford United and Manchester City at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford, west of London, on December 18, 2019. OLLY GREENWOOD / AFP.


Mikel Arteta on Wednesday backed calls for concussion substitutes after Arsenal’s David Luiz was involved in a sickening clash of heads with Raul Jimenez that left the Wolves striker with a fractured skull.

Luiz played on until half-time of Sunday’s match, with Arsenal insisting concussion protocols were followed, but was replaced as blood continued to seep through his head bandage.

He has been ruled out of Thursday’s Europa League match against Rapid Vienna but could be fit for Sunday’s north London derby at Tottenham.

“Maybe it is a moment that we can think to give these people a little bit more time and use a temporary substitution, for example, if we don’t want to find ourselves in those positions,” Arteta told reporters ahead of the Rapid match.

Arsenal faced fierce criticism for not replacing the Brazilian defender immediately after the collision, which occurred just five minutes into the Premier League match with Wolves at the Emirates.

But Arteta said that Arsenal’s club doctor Gary O’Driscoll had followed the rules.

“He knows exactly what to do,” said the Spaniard. “He did all the testing, he followed all the protocols and we were very comfortable for him (Luiz) to carry on playing.

“But obviously you have to make a decision in one minute, when somebody is bleeding, when you have someone with a massive concussion next to you — whose life is under threat.”

Arteta said it was impossible to avoid accidental clashes in football and that sometimes they would lead to serious injuries.

“Obviously, it’s never happened in football,” he added, referring to concussion substitutes. “It happens and it’s very common in other sports.

“And it’s just a suggestion. You know I want to be extra protective, which I think we have to be in certain moments when we really are considering the welfare of the players and have a fair competition while the game is still running.”


Wolves’ Jimenez Hospitalised After Nasty Clash Of Heads With David Luiz

Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz (L) and Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Mexican striker Raul Jimenez lay injured after clashing heads during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Emirates Stadium in London on November 29, 2020. John Walton / POOL / AFP


Wolves striker Raul Jimenez was taken to hospital after coming off worst in a nasty clash of heads with Arsenal’s David Luiz on Sunday.

The Mexican was tended to on the floor by medics for 10 minutes before being stretchered from the field.

Sky Sports reported Jimenez is conscious in hospital and responding to treatment.

Luiz continued with blood seeping into a white bandage wrapped around his head until half-time when he was replaced by Rob Holding.

Football’s lawmakers IFAB have opened the door for concussion substitutes to be used on a trial basis with the English Football Association hoping to do so in this season’s FA Cup.

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Mexican striker Raul Jimenez receives treatment after clashing heads with Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Emirates Stadium in London on November 29, 2020. John Walton / POOL / AFP


Former Chelsea and Celtic striker Chris Sutton has been a campaigner for concussion subs and more investigation into the high percentage of former footballers suffering from neurodegenerative diseases.

“Sickening head clash between Jimenez and Luiz. It’s time football wised up and got up to date and immediately ratifies temporary concussion replacements,” Sutton tweeted.

“Jimenez clearly in a bad way. Has David Luiz been checked adequately?”

Wolves shrugged off the loss of their top scorer to take a 2-1 lead before half-time as Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence struck either side of Gabriel Magalhaes’s equaliser for Arsenal.


‘We Deserve To Win A Trophy’: Luiz Redemption As Arsenal Shock Man City

Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz heads the ball during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP)


David Luiz insists Arsenal’s shock 2-0 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals proves they deserve to be contenders for major trophies.

Arsenal defender Luiz enjoyed a sweet moment of redemption as his superb display paved the way for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s double to knock out holders City at Wembley.

Luiz was lambasted after giving away a goal before being sent off for conceding a penalty in Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat at City in their first game following the coronavirus hiatus.


Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz (L) jumps across to block Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (C) during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP)


But the Brazilian kept City at bay in the rematch and Arsenal, through to a record 21st FA Cup final, will play Chelsea or Manchester United in the showpiece on August 1.

“We have a final to play this season and we will try and win a title for this club because this club deserves to win a trophy,” Luiz told BT Sport.



Arsenal’s Argentinian goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez (L) celebrats with Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz (2L) and Arsenal’s Spanish midfielder Dani Ceballos (3L) at the end of the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP) 


“It was a great result against one of the best teams in the world. We were humble, we understood the way we had to play and we took the opportunities to score.

“We have to be mature, to understand what level we are in the process.”

Luiz paid tribute to Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, who out-witted City boss Pep Guardiola with a shrewd game plan, and saluted his team-mates’ fighting spirit.


Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz (R) challenges Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (L) during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP) / NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE


“We have an amazing coach but we can’t go from 0 to 100. We are improving. The spirit was great and I’m happy for the team because they deserve it,” Luiz said.

“All the team defended, it is not just the last line. Everybody has to fight and play every ball 100 percent. It’s part of the process.


Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz (R) celebrates with Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (2R) at the end of the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. 


“We could do more of this in the game so it would maybe be easier. The other team is miles away in front of us but we were humble so when we play we can hurt the opponent and we did that.”

Asked if he was hurt by the criticism following the defeat at City in June, Luiz — who has since signed a new contract — said: “It is part of the football. I understood that football is about surviving.

“Every day you are going to defend the odd thing. I was working hard every single day after my mistakes. I was humble to work more and to work more for the team.”


Brazilian Defender David Luiz Signs New Arsenal Contract

David Luiz joined Arsenal last summer. Photo:


Brazil defender, David Luiz has signed a new one-year deal with Premier League side, Arsenal.

The North London side disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday where the club described the 33-year-old as an “important” player for the team.

According to Arsenal Technical director, Edu, the player who joined the club last summer, “helps everyone” in the side.

READ ALSO: Kane Scores As Tottenham Edge West Ham In London Derby

“David is a really important player for us,” Edu said. “He has played most of our matches this season and has been important for the team.

“His passing, his communication with the team on and off the pitch. He helps everyone.”

Also, Arsenal confirmed that defenders, Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares have made permanent moves to the club.

Spanish star, Dani Ceballos’s loan from Real Madrid was equally extended until the end of the 2019/20 campaign.

“I am really happy that we will have these players in our squad for the future,” Edu explained. “They have been part of the long-term technical plan Mikel and I have developed. They bring the right balance to our squad.”

Poor Run

Arsenal on Saturday lost their second game in a row since the resumption of the Premier League after Brighton beat them 2-1.

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City had earlier defeated Mikel Arteta’s side 3-0 in their first game after the restart of the league.

The twin defeats left the Gunners 10th on the table but a game against Southampton on Thursday will provide another chance for redemption.

Arsenal Seal Deal For Tierney, Close In On Luiz

David Luiz                                                                        Kieran Tierney


Arsenal significantly bolstered their defence in the final hour of the Premier League transfer window by completing the signing of left-back Kieran Tierney from Celtic with Chelsea’s David Luiz also expected to complete a move to the Emirates on Thursday.

Scotland international Tierney had been a target all summer for the Gunners and agreement of the payment structure of his £25 million ($30 million) move from Celtic was eventually agreed on Wednesday night.

“We’re delighted Kieran is joining us. He’s a very talented player who will continue to improve,” said Arsenal boss Unai Emery.

“He increases our options defensively and I look forward to him joining our group.”

READ ALSO: Gabriel Jesus Gets Two-Month International Ban

Brazilian centre-back Luiz’s £8 million move across London is expected to fill the void left by former captain Laurent Koscielny’s acrimonious departure to Bordeaux earlier this week.

Arsenal conceded 51 goals in the Premier League last season to miss out on Champions League football for a third consecutive season.

The double swoop would complete an impressive window for the Gunners despite missing out on the riches of the Champions League.

A club record £72 million was splashed on Nicolas Pepe from Lille to complete an exciting trio of attacking talent alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

Emery’s midfield options were also boosted by the loan signing of Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid.


Chelsea Stars Still Believe In Sarri, Says Luiz

Chelsea’s Italian head coach Maurizio Sarri/ AFP


Chelsea defender David Luiz insists there has been no dressing room revolt against manager Maurizio Sarri’s tactics despite a 6-0 mauling at Manchester City last weekend.

Sarri has been criticised for refusing to adapt his style, even on the road against the best opponents.

The Blues bounced back by beating Malmo 2-1 in the Europa League on Thursday, but tougher tests lie in wait with the visit of Manchester United in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday followed by a reunion with City in the League Cup final on February 24.

“Yes, (we have an) amazing future,” Luiz told reporters after victory in Sweden. “We have had many meetings already asking if someone doesn’t believe.

“Nobody said anything. It’s because everyone believes.”

READ ALSO: United Confirm Huge Mourinho Pay-Off

The humiliating nature of Chelsea’s heaviest ever Premier League defeat raised serious questions over former Napoli coach Sarri’s future just eight months into a three-year contract.

But Luiz believes the Italian needs time to implement his ideas just as City boss Pep Guardiola and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp did early in their time in England.

“We lost against maybe the best team in the world at the moment in Manchester City,” added Luiz.

“We lost a few matches because it is part of the process. The teams that are at the top of the table now are ones with managers who have been there for more than three years.

“There is a big difference when you have already understood everything, it is much easier to play football.

“I think we are in the right way to still improve to become a fantastic team.”

Should Chelsea continue to stumble in the Premier League, winning the Europa League may represent their best chance of Champions League qualification.

Goals from Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud put them well on course for the last 16 in Malmo, but Sarri was concerned by the slack defending that allowed Anders Christiansen to pull a goal back.

“If we concede a goal like this to a team like Manchester City or United or Tottenham, then you risk conceding three goals in 10 minutes,” said Sarri. “So we have to do better.”


David Luiz ‘Confused’ Under Conte, Says Sarri

Chelsea’s Brazilian defender David Luiz attends a team training session at Chelsea’s Cobham training facility in Stoke D’Abernon, southwest of London. Adrian DENNIS / AFP


David Luiz was left puzzled by his treatment under former Chelsea coach Antonio Conte, according to new Stamford Bridge boss Maurizio Sarri.

Luiz had been an central figure in Chelsea’s title win in Conte’s first season as boss, in 2016-17, but scarcely featured after the 3-0 loss at Roma on October 31 last year.

The Brazil defender, 31, had a rumoured falling-out with Conte and a series of injuries, not featuring at all after the February loss at Watford.

“Two seasons ago he was a protagonist,” said Sarri. “Then six months ago he was not playing, so he was a little confused.”

Chelsea are unbeaten in the Premier League this season, with five wins and two draws, and came within minutes of inflicting Liverpool’s first loss on Saturday.

What Sarri likes about Luiz could be a trait that explains his exile under Conte.

“He’s direct. If he has to say something to the manager he has to talk to me,” Sarri said. “I like very much direct people.

“When I arrived here immediately I had the feeling he’s a very good player for my way of football because he’s a centre-back who is very technical.

“Then I appreciate his qualities as a man. He’s really better than I thought before.”

Luiz is thriving under Sarri.

“Sarri is giving us a lot of happiness to play football. We are trying to enjoy,” he told Chelsea TV.

“He gives us a lot of confidence. He shows us what he wants. He gives us the details about the game.”


Conte Warns Axed Luiz To Fight For Chelsea Future

Chelsea’s Brazilian defender David Luiz. Photo: Adrian DENNIS / AFP

Antonio Conte has warned David Luiz as he faces a fight to win back his Chelsea place after the Brazil defender was dropped for the 1-0 win over Manchester United.

Luiz paid the price for some sloppy performances as Blues boss Conte left him out of the squad at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The former Paris Saint Germain star, one of the key players in Chelsea’s title triumph last term, watched from the stands as Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill filled the central defensive positions for the champions.

That trio easily kept United striker Romelu Lukaku and his team-mates at bay as Alvaro Morata’s 55th minute header sealed a vital victory.

Conte had been prompted to ditch Luiz following the midweek Champions League loss at Roma.

But, having told a television interviewer after the United game that he didn’t know if the defender had a future at Chelsea when he faced the written press, he only told Luiz he wouldn’t be granted an immediate recall.

“It’s very simple, the coach has to make the best decision for the team. Tonight the best decision was to play (Andreas) Christensen and have (Ethan) Ampadu on the bench,” Conte said.

“I decided this way tonight, maybe I can decide a different way in the future or I can continue the same way.”

Conte’s decision to axe Luiz was as much a warning to the rest of the squad to improve their performances as an individual attack on the centre-back.

The Italian’s message was received as Chelsea gave a commanding performance to secure their third successive league win and stay within nine points of leaders Manchester City.

“I must take the best decision for the club, not a single player. It is only a tactical decision. It’s normal,” Conte said.

“This can happen to every one of my players if I see they are not in good form. I have to make important decisions.”

Conte’s own future had been in question last week after demanding Blues owner Roman Abramovich made one of his infrequent visits to the club’s training ground.

Reportedly struggling to stop his players complaining about his intense training regime, Conte badly needed a restorative victory and he was relieved to see Chelsea respond to his demands for more intensity.

– Passion play –

“We played with great energy and great passion. I saw a lot of positive things,” he said.

“They decided they would fight. My players had the will to help each other.

“For many reasons, we started this season with a lot of problems, the confidence can go down.

“To see this spirit, for sure I’m pleased. If there is this passion, we can fight for something important.”

Conte couldn’t resist taking a swipe at United manager Jose Mourinho, who had mocked the Italian’s complaints about injuries earlier this season.

Mourinho mentioned injuries to the likes of Paul Pogba as a reason why United slumped to their second defeat in their last three league games.

But Conte said: “When you have 24 players in the squad if you have one or two injuries that doesn’t work.”

It was another chastening return to the Bridge for Mourinho, who has been beaten on all three of his visits to his old club since taking charge at United last term.

But although United trail eight points behind City, Mourinho refused to surrender the title to Pep Guardiola’s side.

“We are worried but eight points in the Premier League is not the same as eight points in La Liga or the Bundesliga,” he said.

“There is still a lot to play. I hope in the busy period of late November, December, we are going to be at maximum strength with Pogba and Ibrahimovic back.”

Mourinho also defended Lukaku after the United striker gave the latest in a series of anonymous displays.

The Belgian has now gone seven games without a goal, but Mourinho said: “I’m not interested in stats. I’m happy with his attitude. He had a chance with a good shot and created space for others.”


Luiz ‘Must’ Play Despite Broken Wrist, Says Conte

Chelsea’s Brazilian defender David Luiz attends a team training session at Chelsea’s Cobham training facility in Stoke D’Abernon, southwest of London, on September 11, 2017, on the eve of their UEFA Champions League Group C football match FQ Qarabag. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte is pinning his hopes on David Luiz playing against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League next week even though the defender has a broken wrist.

Luiz sustained the injury in Sunday’s goalless draw with Arsenal when he clattered into the advertising hoardings at the end of the first half.

The Brazil defender continued in the second half until he was dismissed after 87 minutes for a reckless tackle on Sead Kolasinac which resulted in a three-game suspension.

Luiz missed Wednesday’s 5-1 League Cup win over Nottingham Forest and will also be ineligible for the Premier League clashes with Stoke and table-topping Manchester City.

Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte

But Conte, whose side beat Qarabag 6-0 in their opening Group C match in the Champions League, expects Luiz to play at Atletico next Wednesday.

“He must be OK,” Conte said. “David is an important player for us. For sure he will be ready for the game against Atletico Madrid.”

In Luiz’s absence, Chelsea’s youngsters impressed against Championship side Forest.

Michy Batshuayi scored a hat-trick while Kenedy and the impressive Charly Musonda were also on target for Chelsea. Tendayi Darikwa scored a late consolation.

Eden Hazard made his first start of the season after suffering a broken ankle.

Conte suggested he could field a similar squad in the fourth round of the League Cup against Everton.

“We are a great club, for this reason every competition is important to us,” he said. “If we answer like this tonight, why not continue to give the opportunity to these players?”


David Luiz Sent Off As Chelsea, Arsenal Draw

Chelsea’s Brazilian defender David Luiz (R) gestures after being shown a red card by English referee Michael Oliver (L) for a dangerous tackle during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in London on September 17, 2017. Glyn KIRK / AFP

Chelsea defender David Luiz was sent off for an ugly foul on Sead Kolasinac as Arsenal finally emerged unscathed from a trip to Chelsea with a 0-0 draw against the champions on Sunday.

The Brazilian saw red in the closing minutes at Stamford Bridge and he could have no complaints about his dismissal after lunging into a crude two-footed challenge on Arsenal defender Kolasinac.

It was the third sending-off for a Chelsea player in their last three meetings with Arsenal.

Victor Moses got his marching orders in last season’s FA Cup final, while Pedro was dismissed in the Community Shield.

The David Luiz flashpoint Chelsea’s fourth red card this season was the most memorable moment of a hard-fought London derby that was high on perspiration but low on inspiration.

After losing on their last five visits to Chelsea, Arsene Wenger’s side had the better of the few clear-cut chances.

But Danny Welbeck, Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette all squandered good opportunities to hand Arsenal their first win at the Bridge since October 2011.

David Luiz’s moment of madness came too late for Arsenal to capitalise on their numerical advantage, so they had to settle for a first clean sheet at Chelsea since 2005.

It was another frustrating encounter with Arsenal for Antonio Conte’s men, who were beaten in both the FA Cup final and the Community Shield.

Arsenal weathered an early storm before Welbeck wasted a golden opportunity when Hector Bellerin’s cross picked out the unmarked forward, who couldn’t adjust quickly enough to keep his header on target.

Wenger’s men threatened again when Ramsey’s pass left Marcos Alonso isolated and put Bellerin in behind the Chelsea defence.

Bellerin crossed low for Lacazette, but the France striker’s shot was too close to Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Arsenal were sweeping forward with real purpose and Kolasinac tested Courtois with a stinging drive that the Belgian parried away.

The Gunners’ rearguard remained as creaky as ever and Cesc Fabregas sprung their offside trap with a precise pass to Pedro, whose tame shot at Petr Cech let the visitors off the hook.

Encouragingly for Wenger, Arsenal were still picking holes in Chelsea’s usually rock-solid defence.

They should have taken the lead just before half-time when Ramsey had only Courtois to beat after weaving his way past Cesar Azpilicueta and David Luiz.

However, Ramsey stabbed his shot against the far post before Lacazette somehow contrived to scuff the rebound over from close range.

Chelsea continued to lack a cutting edge after the break and Willian shot straight at Cech, then blazed over from long range as another attack petered out.

Shkodran Mustafi had the ball in the net for Arsenal, but the defender’s header was correctly ruled out for offside.

As Chelsea’s frustration mounted, David Luiz shrugged off Alexis Sanchez — on as a substitute and launched into a needless lunge on Kolasinac in the 87th minute. He was immediately shown a red card by referee Michael Oliver.


Arsenal Crash At Home To Watford, As Chelsea Draw At Anfield

Arsenal Crash At Home To Watford, As Chelsea Draw At AnfieldArsenal suffered a shock loss 2-1 loss to Watford at the Emirates in the English Premier League on Tuesday night.

It was Watford’s first Premier League away win at Arsenal as two goals in the first 13 minutes set up the 2-1 victory.

Former Tottenham Hotspur defender Younes Kaboul opened the scoring with a powerful drive aided by a deflection off Aaron Ramsey, who limped off with an injury.

Watford’s second came three minutes later as Troy Deeney slotted in after Petr Cech parried Etienne Capoue’s shot into his path.

But Alex Iwobi slotted in from Alexis Sanchez’s chipped cross on 54 minutes and Lucas Perez crashed an effort against the crossbar as Arsenal piled the pressure on in the second half, but Watford held on.

Chelsea and Liverpool played a 1-1 draw at Anfield as the visitors missed the chance of an 11-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

Georginio Wijnaldum’s header earned Liverpool the equalizer after David Luiz’s 25th minute free-kick had put them ahead.

Chelsea could have taken all three points but Diego Costa’s penalty was saved by Mignolet.

In other matches, Crystal Palace beat Bournemouth 2-0 at the Vitality Stadium while relegation threatened Sunderland played a goalless draw with Tottenham Hotspur to ensure all top teams dropped points on the night.

Elsewhere Sam Voke’s 87th minute goal was all Burnley needed to beat Leicester City 1-0 at Turf Moor while Middleborough and West Brom played a 1-1 draw in a keenly contested encounter at the Riverside Stadium.

Swansea City defeated Southampton 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium.

Champions League: Mourinho To Unleash Costa On PSG

Champions LeagueChelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho, has confirmed Diego Costa will start against Paris Saint-Germain in their Champions League match on Tuesday evening, but says he is yet to confirm which goalkeeper will play.

The forward has missed the last three domestic games through suspension but will lead the line for Chelsea’s Champions League first knockout round first leg game, away to a side they eliminated at the quarter-final stage last season.

“Yes, I start him. But I don’t think it’s good for a player to be three weeks, or three matches, without starting a game,” Mourinho said.

“So I don’t think he’s in the best of his condition. But, at the same time, [Loic] Remy and [Didier] Drogba have played in the last three matches. Obviously it is important for them to have minutes and confidence. I know that I have them both ready for the game, too,” the coach said on Chelsea website.

Mourinho was then asked whether Thibaut Courtois would return in goal following Petr Cech’s heroics against Everton last Wednesday. The manager preferred to keep his cards close to his chest rather than disclose more of his line-up, explaining he was yet to inform the players.

“He doesn’t know if he plays or not, so I can’t tell you. He has to know from me, not from the media,” Mourinho said, before adding that irrespective of whoever plays he has the utmost confidence in them.

“I repeat, Chelsea have the two best goalkeepers in the Premier League. For me, easy job. Easy job. I’m very happy with both. Every time one plays, the team are very confident because they know that, behind, they have a top goalkeeper.”

It was inevitable Mourinho would face questions on the opposition, especially with his former defender, David Luiz now at the Parc des Princes.

“David was my player, no problem at all and I was happy to coach him,” said the Portuguese, before commenting more generally on the PSG side and last season’s tie.

“We beat them but we lost in Paris,” he said.

“A knockout competition was decided in the last minute, a small detail making the difference. I’m not saying we won because we were better than Paris. We won because, in this case, we scored a goal away and didn’t concede at home.

“I think Paris are a great team, basically the same team as last season with David Luiz. The same team basically, the same coach, the same dynamic, the same profile.

“They have conditions to be better because they have stability. We have changed a bit some players and the identity of our game. We have changed the profile. I don’t want to say if Chelsea are better or worse than last season but, tomorrow, Parc des Princes will see a different Chelsea to last year,” he assured.

Mourinho also refused to acknowledge any potential advantage in having had a free weekend due to Chelsea’s FA Cup elimination, citing a busy Christmas schedule for the Blues as an important leveller.

“It’s never a blessing to be knocked out of any competition,” he said. “It’s always a problem and never a solution. We were not happy to be knocked out the competition. The last person you should speak to about the accumulation of matches is with a manager from an English club.

“About fatigue. England is a special place. When the French players were on holidays in Christmas, we were playing five matches in 10 days so don’t speak with us about accumulation of matches and fatigue.

“The Champions League is a motivation for every team. We welcome the Champions League,” Mourinho said. “Two big matches against a big opponent. Everyone is happy to play.”

Only confirmed so far is Diego Costa, while John Mikel Obi has not travelled due to injury. Otherwise the manager has everybody available to him as Chelsea fans look to secure a first-leg advantage.