John Terry will captain Chelsea against Swansea City on Tuesday, despite facing a magistrates’ hearing on Wednesday into allegations he racially abused Anton Ferdinand.
The England captain is alleged to have used a racist epithet in the league game between Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers (QPR) on October 23, but has continued to play since.
“You have seen with the off-field events, we haven’t stopped using John, and his level of performance has not been affected,” said Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas.
“If that continues to be the case, we will continue to do it.”
Villas-Boas admitted that Chelsea, who lie fourth, are out of the title race.
“I think our motivation must be playing game-to-game and ensuring Champions League [qualification], which is the minimum objective you can get,” he said.
Leaders Manchester City will have Vincent Kompany back from suspension for the Tuesday trip to face Everton.
“He has been an unbelievable miss,” said full-back Micah Richards.
“He is our captain and he and Joleon [Lescott] have been our best central defensive partnership this season. He has played well in the big games and is a leader so it will be amazing to have him back and we can’t wait to play with him again.”
Second-placed Manchester United host Stoke City on Tuesday, looking to put Saturday’s FA Cup defeat to Liverpool behind them.
“I am glad there is another match on Tuesday,” said midfielder Park Ji-Sung. “We can forget about this result quickly and look to the future … Then we have the Premier League and Europa League. We shouldn’t mess up these two titles.”
Liverpool themselves are at Wolverhampton Wanderers, while Tottenham Hotspur, in third, host bottom club Wigan Athletic.
Arsenal, having come from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa in the FA Cup on Sunday, look to take that momentum into their trip to Bolton Wanderers on Wednesday as they seek to close the five-point gap — which could be eight by then — on Chelsea in fourth.
“That is was a good test to show that we had the mental qualities to come back,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “On the other hand it was important that we didn’t panic.”
Blackburn Rovers look to maintain their improved form and draw away from the relegation zone as they host Newcastle United, while Sunderland host Norwich City, West Bromwich Albion go to Fulham and Aston Villa entertain QPR. — Sapa-dpa