Branislav Ivanovic insists Chelsea must come ahead of individuals

Branislav Ivanovic insists the needs of the team must come first as Chelsea reflect on Diego Costa’s display of petulance in Sunday’s goalless draw with Tottenham.

Branislav Ivanovic insists Chelsea must come ahead of individuals

Costa remained on the bench for the duration of the Barclays Premier League showdown at White Hart Lane and in the final moments tossed his substitutes’ bib over his shoulder in the direction of Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho laughed off the Spain striker’s ill-temper, also stating that he understands why he was upset at not being involved in the London derby.

“If he wants to hurt me, it’s not with a bib. I have a good relationship with him, no problems,” Mourinho said.

Ivanovic, Chelsea’s captain in the injury-enforced absence of John Terry, believes Costa will react to his omission from the team in a positive way.

“I expect Diego to come back strongly. We start the season as a team and we have to finish as a team,” Ivanovic said.

“Sometimes for a player who isn’t playing it’s difficult but it is a normal situation for the club.

“This is important. When we start losing we all know it’s not about the one or two players playing badly or playing well - it’s about the team.

“Diego didn’t play against Tottenham but he’ll be ready for the next game.

“He scored against Norwich - the winning goal. It’s all about the team. We all have to think about that.”

Reports suggest that Chelsea are looking for a new striker in January - with Tottenham’s Harry Kane among those linked - and the speculation is likely to heighten after Costa’s omission.

“I think Diego is very privileged because he was the last one to be (put) on the bench,” Mourinho added.

“Everybody was on the bench. I kept him in the team for all these matches and today we thought the best strategy to play was this one. We are happy with the decision.”

If Mourinho decides Costa’s lack of form and public display of frustration in north London warrants another shift on the bench, then Eden Hazard is happy to continue in the forward role. Hazard was superb against Tottenham with Mourinho acclaiming it as his best performance of the season.

“I have played on the left, on the right, recently in the number 10 role, and I just enjoy playing. I know to give my all wherever I am on the pitch,” Hazard told Chelsea TV.

“We want to finish in the top four and we know it’s difficult but we will try. We will continue to work hard and continue to take pleasure from our game.”

Centre-back Kurt Zouma believes Chelsea have turned a corner in their nightmare season. “We are happy because we didn’t concede a goal,” the 21-year-old said.

“We wanted to win but I think it’s a good result for us.

“To play at Tottenham is always difficult and now we are happy with the point. Let’s keep going.

“Things are turning for us because we have been playing well for a few weeks now. We are very happy with a third clean sheet in three games. That gives us more confidence and we have to just keep going.

“We played away on Tuesday and then we had a long journey so we didn’t have a lot of time to train but the boss used a good formation because we didn’t concede a goal and we played well, so well done the team.”

The draw at White Hart Lane keeps Tottenham knocking on the door of the top four — they are two points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal and only four off leaders Manchester City— but playmaker Mousa Dembele refuses to consider a title challenge. “We have the confidence to win any game if we have the same mentality we have now. You want to end up first but we don’t think that far ahead,” Dembele said.

“The next game is important and every week is a massive challenge. We are more confident and that’s something we’ve worked on for a long time.

“Maybe in the past it was different, more people were sure of their spots, but at the moment everyone is capable of playing and that is something I hope will make everyone focus, including myself.”

Tottenham extended their unbeaten run to 13 matches, with their only Premier League defeat this term coming on the opening day at Manchester United.

Head coach Mauricio Pochettino was asked if he was happy with a draw in light of Thursday’s Europa League clash in Azerbaijan.

“No, not really happy,” Pochettino said. “We created enough chances to score. We shot four times on target, and three or four more off target.

“They had one shot on target, in the second half for Hazard. We deserved more in a very difficult game.”

Ryan Mason went off with an ankle or Achilles problem and will be assessed this week.

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