Chelsea v QPR
Chelsea are fulfilling the early-season objectives set by manager Jose Mourinho, who can see potential for improvement in his Barclays Premier League leaders.
The Blues face QPR at Stamford Bridge today after 14 matches unbeaten this season and with prolific striker Diego Costa available again following his hamstring problem.
In the absence of Costa, scorer of nine Premier League goals in seven games, Chelsea enhanced their hold on Champions League Group G, advanced to the Capital One Cup quarter-finals and consolidated their place at the top of the Premier League with a draw at Manchester United.
“In terms of objectives, the pragmatic ones, the numbers, the results, we are where we want to be,” Mourinho said.
“First in the Champions League, first in the league, quarter-final of the League Cup.
“In terms of numbers we are there. In terms of performance and the quality of the team, no team is perfect.
“We are not perfect, but I’m happy with what we are doing and where we are.”
Mourinho also insisted he is powerless to stop Diego Costa joining up with Spain for the forthcoming internationals.
Spain will next week name their squad for the Euro 2016 qualifying match with Belarus on November 15 and Germany, their successors as world champions, in a friendly three days later.
Asked whether Costa would be part of the Spain contingent, Mourinho said: “That’s not my call, that’s not my decision. I’m nobody to stand in the way. I cannot stop him from going.”
Mourinho, perhaps in a statement directed towards Spain boss Vicente del Bosque, is adamant the £32million signing from Atletico Madrid will be handled with care.
Mourinho added: “Again he needs to be under special care and we are going to do that. It’s the only thing we can do.”
Costa’s absence has been particularly galling for Mourinho as striker Loic Remy suffered a groin injury in the defeat of Maribor, who Chelsea play again next Wednesday.
Costa’s participation in Slovenia is by no means certain.
“Let’s see step by step,” Mourinho said. “With his situation it’s difficult to predict what can happen.”
Mourinho is looking to win the Premier League title for a third time with Chelsea, after winning in 2005 and 2006 with a team of players at the peak of their powers.
“It was a new team with almost all of them end products, top players,” Mourinho added.
“This team is giving me more work to bring them to that level.
“End products are one thing and players with great talent are another thing.
“That’s why I came here. I knew exactly what I was going to have when I came here last year.”
Chelsea were denied an eighth league win of the season at Old Trafford last weekend by Robin van Persie’s late equaliser after Branislav Ivanovic conceded a free-kick which angered Mourinho and saw the Serbia defender sent off.
Asked about his side leaking late goals this term, a less than concerned Mourinho said: “We conceded a goal against Man City, against Crystal Palace, against Shrewsbury. Nothing else.
“United? Ah, that was not a goal. Not a goal.”
The saving grace has been the form of 36-year-old Didier Drogba, who has scored in three successive matches against Maribor, Manchester United and Shrewsbury.
Midfielder John Obi Mikel (foot) is also out of the QPR contest, but Ramires is back from a groin problem.
Branislav Ivanovic is available following his suspension for his dismissal at Old Trafford, but fellow full-back Cesar Azpilicueta is banned for the last of three games following his dismissal at Crystal Palace.
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