Roberto Di Matteo praised John Terry’s ‘leadership qualities’ in the 2-1 win over Arsenal on Saturday.
Terry’s inclusion in the Blues starting XI was always going to be a talking point, coming as it did only a day after he was found guilty by the FA of using racist language towards QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.
But the Chelsea captain once again produced a calm and determined performance in front of a hostile Emirates Stadium crowd as his side withstood a late Gunners barrage to bank another vital three points.
Speaking after the match, Di Matteo said: “I think it was the right choice from my side to pick him.
“He showed his leadership qualities and what a good defender he is for the team.”
After the match Terry reportedly removed his boots and gave them to a young Chelsea fan in the away end, and his manager added: “There’s always a lot of talk about the negative side of him, but he does a lot of good work as well.
“He gives a lot of boots away to young kids, and he does a lot of other positive stuff as well.”
Chelsea often found themselves stretched by a determined Arsenal team roared on by a raucous home crowd, but goals from Fernando Torres and Juan Mata secured a victory which keeps them top of the Premier League.
“I’m very pleased with the performance, and I think we deservedly won,” he added.
“We still have a lot of work to do. We’ve not been together for very long and that shows at times. It’s just a matter of working on the training ground and trying to improve.
“Mata seems to be back in very good shape. I think the little break we gave him has done him a lot of good.
“We planned it because he had a busy summer, going straight from the Euros to the Olympics, and if we didn’t give him a break it would have had an effect, but he is looking good.”
Meanwhile, Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby will be out for a minimum of three weeks with a thigh strain, Arsene Wenger has confirmed.
The 26-year-old, who injured his hip on international duty with France last month, was substituted after just 17 minutes.
“It’s a thigh strain,” Wenger told Sky Sports. “How bad? It’s minimum three weeks.”
Arsenal will likely be without Diaby for league matches away to West Ham and Norwich, as well as Champions League ties with Olympiakos and Schalke.
Wenger was disappointed to lose a match he felt his side had done enough to win, limiting Chelsea to just three shots on target and creating plenty themselves.
“I believe we were a bit nervous at the start and, after the first 20 minutes when we got into the game, we should never have lost,” the Arsenal manager said.
“We played against a good team but we gave the game away. They had three shots on target and scored two goals.
“At set-pieces and defensively we were just not at the level you need in a big game like that, and that’s where we were punished.”