Martinez does not believe Chelsea’s decline is terminal
Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes talk of a Chelsea crisis has been over-hyped.
The defending champions arrive at Goodison Park on Saturday on the back of a rare home defeat to Crystal Palace before the international break which has left them with just four points from as many matches.
There has been much debate about how a number of Jose Mourinho’s key players are under-performing but Martinez insists it is only a matter of time before they kick into gear again – he just hopes it is not against his side.
“It is only four games into the season so if you want to make an assessment it will not have a lot of substance,” he said.
“They have not lost any of their top performers from last season, they won the league by a clear distance, and I expect to see this side competing for every trophy they were competing for last season.
“What you can say about this team is that they haven’t reached that winning momentum they had last season – that is obvious.
“You can have the same players and same way of playing but you need to develop that momentum and that comes with good results.
“Their four games this season – apart from Manchester City away from home – it has been about small margins.
“I expect a very strong Chelsea team with the right approach hitting the heights that they had last season when they won the league comfortably.
“I don’t think there is a big difference – we just need to make sure they don’t develop momentum against us.”
A little more than 12 months ago Chelsea won 6-3 in a game full of attacking intent but Martinez does not envisage a repeat performance.
“I do expect for it to be a bit of a different encounter,” he added.
“Off the back of an international break it will be less of an open game but the make-up of the two sides is the same.”
Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will be out for “quite a long time” after suffering a knee injury in training, manager Mourinho has announced.
The Barclays Premier League champions will first be without the Belgium goalkeeper for Saturday’s match after Courtois suffered the injury in training.
“Courtois was injured in a training session with the goalkeepers and I cannot tell you much, but I can tell you that he needs surgery in his right knee,” Mourinho said.
“As a consequence of that he will be out for quite a long time. I cannot be at this moment more specific about the injury or the time he will be out.”
It is another blow for the Blues, who have four points from their opening four games and sit eight points behind leaders Manchester City.
Asmir Begovic will deputise for Courtois, who suffered the injury on Wednesday in circumstances Mourinho was not familiar with, as it happened during a goalkeeper-specific session.
“In this moment we lose Courtois for a long, long time – I hope it’s not long, long, just long,” added Mourinho, who will have Jamal Blackman on the bench.
Oscar remains out with an undisclosed injury, but could return to contention for next Wednesday’s Champions League campaign opener at home to Maccabi Tel Aviv or the following Saturday against Arsenal.
“Almost there,” said Mourinho on the Brazil playmaker.
Mourinho declined to discuss Chelsea’s transfer window activity, when Everton rebuffed offers for defender John Stones.
“The transfer window is closed. I have no more comments. I have nothing to say,” Mourinho said.
“What (Everton boss Roberto) Martinez says for me means nothing. I don’t comment.
“John Stones, I expect him to play tomorrow that is today with (Phil) Jagielka, because it’s the normal two central defenders that play for Everton.”
Asked if he would shake hands with Martinez at Goodison Park, Mourinho said: “You think that’s important? I don’t think it’s important.”