Premier League - Mourinho wants to play 'reserves' against Liverpool

Chelsea could field a weakened team in their top of the table Premier League game at Liverpool on Sunday, said manager Jose Mourinho after their 0-0 draw at Atletico Madrid.

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Premier League - Mourinho wants to play 'reserves' against Liverpool
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Bildtext:MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 22: Manager Jose Mourinho of Chelsea looks on from the dug out during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Chelsea at Vicente Calderon Stadium on April 22, 2014 in Madrid,

'NOT JUST UP TO ME'

With his second-placed side five points adrift of leaders Liverpool with only three games left, Mourinho is clearly prioritising next week's Champions League semi-final second leg at home to Atletico over their slim Premier League title hopes.

The Portuguese, however, said he would speak to the hierarchy at Chelsea before making a final decision on the team he would field at Anfield on Sunday.

Asked on ITV Sport if he would select a weaker team against Liverpool, Mourinho replied: "I think I will but it's something we have to speak about internally. It's not a decision a manager can make on his own.

"I can't decide by myself, that's a decision where I have to listen to the club. I'm just the manager, no more than that."

He said Chelsea had already tried and failed to get the Premier League to switch the Liverpool game to Friday or Saturday in order to give his team more time to prepare for the second leg against Atletico.

"The fact the match is on a Sunday puts the problem not in my hands but the hands of the people who decide the game should be played on Sunday, not Saturday or Friday," explained Mourinho.

"We represent English football, we are the only English team left in Europe.

"Spain has four teams and gives them all the conditions to have success," added Mourinho, referring to the fact that the top sides in La Liga often get the chance to play on a Friday or a Saturday ahead of Champions League midweek fixtures.

Chelsea will be without midfielders Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel for the second leg against Atletico after they were booked in Tuesday's 0-0 draw.

Meanwhile, Peter Cech has been ruled out for the season with a dislocated shoulder picked up in the match and John Terry also suffered an ankle injury which puts his immediate availability in serious doubt.

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EUROSPORT'S VIEW

Before Liverpool fans start popping the champagne corks it is worth considering just what this 'weakened team' might look like. Due to cup-ties or suspensions Mikel, Lampard, Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah will all start. Mourinho might also want to give the soon-to-return from injury pair of Samuel Eto'o and Eden Hazard some game time before the second leg, while Oscar was left on the bench against Atletico on Tuesday night and Demba Ba only played a couple of seconds, so both should be fresh too. It would not be unreasonable to think that Mourinho would want to give David Luiz and Gary Cahill some time developing chemistry too now that John Terry is likely out. So while Mourinho might not put out his ideal starting XI against Liverpool, 'weak' would not be adjective we would choose to use. This is classic Mourinho 'Mind Games'.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

The Liverpool game kicks off at 14:05 on Sunday with the second-leg of the Atletico clash not until the following Wednesday. If Liverpool do win on Sunday they will officially knock Chelsea out of the title race as they will be eight points clear with both teams having only two games left. A Chelsea win, on the other hand, would put them right back in the mix - but they really do have to win, a draw is little use to them now. Manchester City will be nine points behind Liverpool with two games in hand if the Reds beat Chelsea, the first of which will immediately follow the clash at Anfield as City play away at in-form Crystal Palace.

WHAT THE MEDIA SAID

Paul Hayward (The Daily Telegraph): This 0-0 draw in a city where it turned sour for Mourinho at Real will have entertained only Liverpool fans, who saw Petr Cech and John Terry leave the field injured, five days before the showdown at Anfield. It also riled West Ham’s followers, who reminded Mourinho through social media of his “19th Century football” dig at Sam Allardyce and his men. Chelsea were not the most exciting side in the 2011-2012 tournament either but they were the most indomitable. Those memories came flooding back as Mourinho’s great defensive block stood in the way of an Atlético Madrid team who went from side to side and up and down without really showing how they came to be top of La Liga.

Oliver Kay (The Times): It is a results business, as has been made clearer than ever this week, and there is no manager more results-driven than José Mourinho. Last night, against the Spanish league leaders, in the partisan atmosphere of the Vicente Calderón, Chelsea got precisely the result they came for. In a week’s time, we will find out whether it was the right one. Afterwards Mourinho denied that it had been mission accomplished in terms of the first leg — “we don’t start the game thinking of 0-0,” he said — but it was not entirely convincing. It had been a dreary night’s football, unbecoming of a Champions League semi-final, but Mourinho has never worried about that. He is a results man. Time will tell whether this, in spite of the injuries, can be considered a good night.

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WHAT THE FANS SAID

Kevin (Eurosport Yahoo! user): If fielding Lampard, Matic, Salah and Mikel means the Chelsea team is weak, this is nonsense! These players don't have to play the return leg and will be happy to play the league game and actually , other than Cech and Terry, it's still a full strength team. Great mind games by the way, but not falling for that. With these players? It's still a strong Chelsea team regardless.

Letthepiefly (Eurosport mobile app user): Chelsea have two squads, have done for years now to cope with these situations. Mourinho just knows he's going lose both competition so the excuses have already begun.

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