Chelsea manager jose Mourinho is keeping his views on Ashley Cole’s decision to join Arsenal players on their Christmas night out this week to himself, but he revealed on Friday the full-back would not face the Gunners on Monday.
Cole was photographed at the London venue where the Arsenal squad were celebrating with a fancy dress party.
And with Cole and his team-mates due to face the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium just a few days later, the incident inevitably raised eyebows.
Mourinho, though, insisted he will keep his views to himself when quizzed about the night out although he confirmed Cole had not broken any club rules.
He said: “I have my opinion but I keep it for myself. It was a free day for them, so I’m not a father. I’m a manager.
“I can control what they do when they are with me. I cannot control what they do when they are not with me. I don’t want to comment.
“I have my opinion, but I keep it to myself. I’ve not even given my opinion to Ashley Cole because I don’t have to. It was his free day, his free night. The next morning we didn’t train. We only trained in the afternoon, so I have no right to make a comment.
“I won’t. I just have my opinion.”
Cole’s position at Stamford Bridge has come under scrutiny in recent weeks after the England international lost his starting position to Cesar Azpilicueta. And after confirming Azpilicueta has recovered from an injury scare, Mourinho made it clear Cole will once again be watching from the sidelines.
The manager said: “He won’t be playing from the beginning, no. I play Branislav Ivanovic right-back and Azpilicueta left-back, and John Terry. I have to make a decision between Gary Cahill and David Luiz. From the beginning, Ashley is not playing.
“Unless… today is Friday, the game is Monday. Something can happen in between. Normally, I’ll play Azpilicueta at left-back.”
The meeting between Arsenal and Chelsea could determine who will top the Premier League over Christmas. Mourinho’s side will go into the game boosted by the League Cup victory over Arsene Wenger’s tesam at the Emirates last October.
But the Chelsea manager insists that will count for little.
He said: “It is a different competition, different motivation, different responsibilities, different players in some cases. But it’s still Arsenal, still Chelsea, still a London derby, first playing third.
“It’s a big match, for sure. It’s a pity it’s not tomorrow because I’m ready and waiting to play the game.”
Mourinho once again voiced his frustration at his side’s failings after the shock of the midweek League Cup defeat at Sunderland.
He said: “We know that we don’t have the players with the qualities to be the killer who scores week after week, game after game, and to express in terms of numbers the quality of the football we are playing.
“But we can improve our results having more security when we lose possession of the ball. At this moment, we are not punishing opponents by scoring goals and killing them when we have it in our hands to do that.
“But, at the same time, we are being punished when we lose the ball. In every match we are dominant – we have official statistics which prove that clearly – and in the matches we lost we had even more possession than games we won.
“It’s not about the team being more ‘committed’, but people have to change their brains a little bit more in the sense that we need to be a team playing very important step, but to be a team that wins a lot of matches is a more difficult step.”