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Outspoken Mourinho springs a surprise by keeping his counsel

Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea manager, opted to focus only on his own team ahead of today's Barclays Premier League match with Everton, bringing to an end the series of verbal barbs he had directed at rival managers in recent weeks.

Jose Mourinho refused to make any comment on Roberto Martinez or Wayne Rooney. Picture: John Walton/PA
Jose Mourinho refused to make any comment on Roberto Martinez or Wayne Rooney. Picture: John Walton/PA

Mourinho answered at length only when asked questions about the Stamford Bridge outfit, who have John Terry available again but are without David Luiz due to injury. Chelsea enter this weekend's fixtures top of the Premier League by one point from Arsenal and two from Manchester City, who have a game in hand.

Asked about City and Arsenal's European travails, after both lost 2-0 in their Champions League last-16 first-leg encounters, Mourinho would only be drawn on his side's tie with Galatasaray. "My Champions League starts Wednesday," he said. "I play Wednesday and I concentrate on that."

Following his description of Arsene Wenger last week as "a specialist in failure" and the Frenchman's riposte that he was "embarrassed for him [Mourinho]", the Portuguese yesterday declined to continue the debate.

He was also tight-lipped on the subject of Wayne Rooney, a summer transfer target for Chelsea, who committed his future to Manchester United on a contract reportedly worth £300,000 a week. "I don't react," Mourinho explained.

Rooney is now managed by David Moyes, who has been succeeded at Everton by Roberto Martinez. The Spaniard's work has been impressive so far, having guided his side to sixth place - three points better off than Moyes' United with a game in-hand.

However, Mounrinho again turned down the opportunity to offer his thoughts on Martinez's exploits, saying: "I don't comment."

Everton's success owes is in part to the performances of Romelu Lukaku, the striker on loan from Chelsea, who has scored nine Premier League goals. Somewhat predictably given the nature of his previous answers, Mourinho declined to comment on the Belgium striker, who has recovered from an ankle injury but is ineligible to play against his parent club.

"Until the end of the season he is an Everton player," the Chelsea manager explained.

With Terry back after missing three games, Chelsea's defence is likely to be reinforced. In the former England captain's previous eight appearances, Chelsea conceded just two goals. January signings Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah, ineligible for Wednesday's match in Istanbul, are likely to feature.

Meanwhile, Mourinho's counterpart Martinez expects the trip to Stamford Bridge to provide a barometer for Everton's hopes of finishing in the top four. They currently lie eight points behind city rivals Liverpool and five adrift of Tottenham, although they have a game in hand on both.

Martinez said: "The game we have at the weekend is going to tell us a lot. Chelsea have got terrific home form with this manager, and not just this season. It's an incredible challenge but probably internally we need that."

The visitors' injury situation is improving, with only long-term absentees Bryan Oviedo, Arouna Kone and Darron Gibson out of the picture. Former Rangers forward Steven Naismith has recovered from a knock while Antolin Alcarazis back in contention for a place in the squad.

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