Mourinho makes case for defence

Wimbledon Guardian: Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho praised his side's defensive resilience following the 4-0 defeat of Tottenham Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho praised his side's defensive resilience following the 4-0 defeat of Tottenham

Jose Mourinho lauded Chelsea's defensive resilience after his side moved seven points clear at the top of the Premier League.

A 4-0 defeat of Spurs on Saturday saw the Blues claim a seventh clean sheet in their last 10 league matches and extend their advantage over Mourinho's title pick Manchester City to nine points, although the 2012 champions have three games in-hand.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill and captain John Terry are established as Mourinho's favoured back four, much to the Portuguese's satisfaction.

Azpilicueta, who has displaced Ashley Cole at left-back, received particular praise.

"We know that to win matches you need to score more goals than the opponent, but one of the ways you have to score more is if you don't concede," said Mourinho, whose strikers have been much derided this term.

"We work, we prepare matches, we analyse opponents. You try to find the best balance.

"Defensively you try to make a shape, you try to find a balance. I like Ivanovic playing right-back more than as a central defender.

"I like a lot the stability of Cahill and the understanding of Cahill with John.

"And I think at this moment Azpilicueta is unbeatable. For many, many matches I haven't seen one player beat Azpilicueta in an individual duel.

"The team is compact, we have a good balance, we are playing well defensively."

While Mourinho was dishing out plaudits, Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood was less than complimentary about some members of his squad and will hope for a reaction in the Europa League on Thursday.

"This is another blow to us," said Sherwood, who was unable to end Spurs' 24-year wait for victory at Stamford Bridge.

"We play Benfica now on Thursday and have to bounce back very quickly.

"We don't have time to dwell on this now. But I'm gutted, massively disappointed."

Tottenham "capitulated", to use Sherwood's own words, in the second half, with Jan Vertonghen gifting Samuel Eto'o the first and Younes Kaboul sent off for the foul which allowed Eden Hazard to convert a penalty. Sherwood was uncertain if Spurs would appeal the decision.

It did not help that captain Michael Dawson departed early with a hamstring injury which leaves him doubtful for Thursday's Europa League last-16 first leg with Benfica.

"We're hoping there's a miracle, but I'm not going to hold my breath," added Sherwood on Dawson, whose departure was followed by a quick-fire Demba Ba double.

Ba last started a Premier League match for Chelsea on October 6 at Norwich.

He has struggled to take his limited opportunities off the bench since, but will hope his double strike earns further chances, especially as Fernando Torres faces a spell out with a groin injury.

"That was a great day for the whole team and the whole club," Ba told Chelsea TV.

"I try to deal with what I've been given and it's not always easy, but I just do what I have to do. I just take the chance to score and I did."

Tottenham had Chelsea under pressure at times in the first half, in particular, but Mourinho was unfazed.

"We were all calm," Mourinho told Chelsea TV.

"No mistakes, no defensive mistakes. They had control of the ball and of the game but they didn't scare us. That's a good feeling.

"We were very mature. You have to cope with what the game has to give you and sometimes the game gives you a fantastic game, sometimes the game gives you a difficult game and we coped very well with a difficult first half.

"When you are not on the top of your game, but you feel they are not very dangerous, keep calm and you wait for your moment."

The comments could equally apply to the title race, but Mourinho insists the table is not accurate as Arsenal, Liverpool and City, in particular, have games in hand.

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