If this feels like a familiar headline, that's because it should be. It was just a couple weeks ago that we ran a similar story after Petr Cech got the start over Thibaut Courtois in the match against Everton at Stamford Bridge.
At the start of the season, especially after the first game, the master plan was fairly obvious. Use the young goalkeeper of the future for the league games, use the living legend and similarly world class Petr Cech in the cup games and a few Champions League games. In case of injury or poor form, switch it up.
Certainly one of those did strike Courtois on the way to conceding five against Spurs on New Year's Day. A fractured thumb kept him out for the next three games, and, duly, Cech kept back-to-back-to-back clean sheets. But then the League Cup semifinals rolled around, and it was Courtois in goal instead of Cech up at Anfield. So much for the plan! Courtois was of course excellent, just as he would be in the return leg. (While Cech had the misfortune of facing Bradford City in the game of their lives).
But then the Aston Villa match happened, and Courtois was suddenly shaky in dealing with crosses. In the game prior, he made an error on Manchester City's equalizing goal. So against Everton, Mourinho gave him a "mental break." Cech got the start, made a couple amazing saves, and kept a clean sheet. The plan was truly shredded to bits by this point. Courtois was back in the next game, against PSG in the Champions League (in which competition the two goalkeepers had been tied 3-3 in terms of starts up to that point) and kept his place for the farce against Burnley. Many, including yours truly, figured that he would keep his place for the League Cup final as well.
Mourinho had other ideas.
"I chose [Cech] because this was his competition, we made a decision to make Courtois our first-choice keeper because he is the young one, the future and he is amazing for his age. We said this would be Petr's competition, but when I started giving him a Champions League or Premier League match now and again, I opened the door for myself to play Courtois in this competition. I wanted to play him away at Liverpool and we were successful with that. They are both doing so well that everybody feels comfortable with every decision. I try to be fair and Petr deserved to play today but we all know Courtois deserves the cup as much as him."
-Jose Mourinho; source: Chelsea FC
Well, as long as everybody's cool...
Our two goalkeepers have gotten along amazingly well both on and, by all indications, off the pitch on the odd occasion, and we're all the stronger for it as a team. We're going to need to keep that harmony as we look to add to the League Cup trophy with a couple more successes this season.