Jose Mourinho says Chelsea’s clash with Arsenal will not prove a crucial moment in the Premier League title race.
The champions have suffered back-to-back league defeats and are already 11 points behind leaders Manchester City, with Arsenal currently six clear of their London rivals.
Mourinho, however, does not consider beating their biggest rivals as vital to Chelsea’s chances of defending their title, though he accepts three points would be welcome.
“Two seasons ago we won every match against the title contenders and we were not champions, so I think it’s important because somebody winning means somebody loses points. But it’s not crucial,” Mourinho, who confirmed Willian will miss the game through injury, said on Friday.
“I don’t go in that direction [that Arsenal are title challengers]. I just go into the match tomorrow. Our fantastic record doesn’t matter, that they beat us in the Charity Shield [Community Shield] doesn’t matter.
“It’s just Chelsea – Arsenal, it’s a match we want to win. Because it’s a match and if we’re looking at the table, we know the distance we have in relation to the top of the league so I don’t think that helps us.”
Mourinho, who refused to offer any comment on a reported FA investigation into alleged sexist remarks aimed at Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro, also stressed that Arsene Wenger’s handshake snub following the Community Shield in August was of no consequence.
“I’m happy that you described in a correct way what happened, that’s maybe the first time. I don’t have any critic about that,” he said when asked about the incident.
“I don’t think it’s important now, I don’t think people are focused on that. They’re focused on what happens on the pitch.”
Petr Cech is in line for his first appearance at Stamford Bridge since leaving Chelsea for Arsenal and Mourinho says “the door is open” to his old goalkeeper – but only after the match.
“For me, until the game finishes, that’s exactly what it is [Chelsea against any goalkeeper]. After the game, it’s not the same to meet Petr Cech in the tunnel, or Ospina or some of the guys I don’t have a special connection with.
“I never had a doubt. If anyone, a Chelsea fan, has a different perspective of what football is and thought that Cech would open the goal and let Chelsea win, they understood in the [Community] Shield they are there to win, probably more than ever.
“After the game, the dressing room door is open.”