Jose Mourinho insists Man Utd vs Chelsea 'is just a game' as he vows to play it cool

James Ducker
Jose Mourinho shows his displeasure at Stamford Bridge earlier this season - Rex Features

Jose Mourinho has vowed to play it cool in Sunday's crucial game against Chelsea, despite emotions running high in two tempestuous meetings with his former club this season.

The Manchester United manager clashed with Antonio Conte in his team's defeats at Stamford Bridge last month and in October, when he accused his Chelsea counterpart of "humiliating" him with his touchline antics at the end of a 4-0 thumping.

Mourinho also hit back at the Chelsea fans who had taunted him with chants of "Judas" during United's 3-1 FA Cup quarter-final defeat by claiming "Judas will be No. 1" at Stamford Bridge until someone matches his record of delivering three Premier League titles for the club.

But Mourinho has vowed to keep any emotions in check at Old Trafford as he bids to keep United's top four hopes alive and kicking against the runaway Premier League leaders.

"You say that word emotion," Mourinho said. "For me, it is just a game. One more game. No difference for me, not at all."

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Chelsea were the last team to defeat United in the league but the Manchester club's 21-match unbeaten run has featured 10 draws and they have shown clear signs of fatigue in recent weeks as a congested fixture schedule begins to take its toll.

Mourinho was again left to bemoan United's wasteful on Thursday when they conceded late on to draw 1-1 away to Anderlecht in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final.

United's profligacy contrasts starkly with the ruthlessness displayed by Conte's Chelsea this season but any praise for his former club has usually come through gritted teeth from Mourinho, who sacked by Roman Abramovich in December 2015 with the team a point above the relegation zone.

Mourinho believes Chelsea will have a clear advantage on Sunday having had a full week to prepare for the game and made yet another reference to what he perceives to be Conte's ultra-defensive tactics, a stance that has amused Chelsea fans who recall that Mourinho was renowned for his pragmatism when in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho and Chelsea manager Antonio Conte have clashed earlier in the season

"First of all, some guys (Chelsea) are fresh, some guys (United) are tired. That’s very important in football," the United manager said.

"But, for some reason, they are top of the league. It’s not just because they are fresh. It’s also because they have individual quality and they have collective quality.

 "They have a certain style of play, they stick to it, they do it very well.

"Not every team defends with 11 players, and they defend with 11 players.

"Not every team is so objective in their counter attacks. They are very objective in the counter-attack and they have individual players out of the context of the game that can also resolve the problems. So they are a very strong team."

United drew 1-1 with Anderlecht on Thursday

Mourinho expressed frustration after the Anderlecht game that he is unlikely to be able to rest his central defensive pairing of Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo while United remain in contention for the top four and Europa League given the injuries to Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.

The Portuguese said he did not expect either of the England defenders to be back before "mid-May". Smalling has a knee problem and Jones a toe injury, both of which were sustained in England duty.

Mourinho also raised doubts about whether Juan Mata will play again this season by claiming he does not expect the Spain playmaker to be fit again until "the end of May" after undergoing hernia surgery a fortnight ago. But it is thought Mata is targeting a return this month and is optimistic about his chances of playing again this term.

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