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Chelsea won't take foot off the gas

Diego Costa

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho expects to beat West Bromwich Albion otoday and does not believe his side will become complacent in their quest for the Premier League title following an unbeaten start to the season.

Having collected 29 points from 11 matches, table-topping Chelsea have a four-point advantage over Southampton and with champions Manchester City eight points back in third, few would predict the Premier League title going anywhere other than Stamford Bridge.

But speaking yesterday ahead of the visit of 13th-placed West Brom, Mourinho said his side would not be resting on their laurels.

"I expect to win, but I expect a very, very difficult match," Mourinho said. "They have a good team, they can give us a very difficult match.

"We have a situation now, but our distance to our opponents tomorrow can increase or decrease. In this moment I don't think about being champion, I just think about beating West Brom."

believe

"(There is) no complacency. If we lose matches, and I believe we will, it will not be because of complacency but because this is football."

Mourinho is "hopeful" midfielder Cesc Fabregas will be fit to face West Brom after struggling with a thigh injury and Andre Schuerrle and Ramires are back in contention after overcoming knocks.

Chelsea top-scorer Diego Costa, who was rested by Spain during the international break, has "totally recovered" from persistent hamstring and groin problems, and Mourinho is looking forward to the striker firing on all cylinders once again.

"In these past two weeks he had a little bit of a holiday," he said. "But the holiday he spent with a Chelsea physio, so even on that small period of holiday he was working many, many hours per day with our physio.

"He keeps going in the right direction and in this moment we feel that he is free of his old injuries."

However, the Chelsea boss did concede that Costa, who has scored 10 Premier League goals this season, may struggle to adapt to the hectic fixture schedule at the end of December. We are going to have a period that is new for him," Mourinho said. "I always think that the Christmas period for players that do it fo r the first time in their careers is more difficult."

Life at Stamford Bridge has got off to quite the start for the 26-year-old despite battling his injury issues.

Those complaints led to Costa missing Spain's international fixtures this past fortnight, with that break allowing the former Atletico Madrid striker to make what Mourinho says is a full recovery.

It is a timely boost ahead of Chelsea's run of eight matches in 24 days - the start of what Mourinho calls a "beautiful" period, albeit one which wi ll be a culture shock to Premier League new boy Costa.

"I believe [this period has set him up for the rest of the season], but now we are going to have a period that is new for him," the Blues manager said of the striker, who is one yellow card away from suspension.

"The English players, or those who have been here for many, many years, are more physically and, especially, more mentally adapted and prepared to cope with that incredible marathon of football we have to face.

Intelligent management over the festive period will be key to preventing any further issues arising for Costa, who Mourinho admits he has already sat down with to talk through what to expect in the coming weeks and months.

"We spoke yesterday about it," the Portuguese said. "But we go match after match. Diego has four yellow cards. Am I going to protect him for any game? No way. He plays, when he gets the fifth he gets the fifth because the important game is against West Brom.

NOT THINKING

"After West Brom is Sunderland. I am not thinking about Newcastle, Tottenham or Stoke - for us it is the next match.

"With Diego, we have to go match by match, but the way he trains and expresses himself in training, he has a free mind. He's free of fears, at this moment. He is good."

A fully-fit Costa is a worrying prospect for Chelsea's Premier League rivals and, in particular, today's opponents West Brom. Chelsea's fine form has even led one bookmaker to pay out on the Blues winning the title.


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