Liverpool v Chelsea: Jose Mourinho threatens to play weakened side at Anfield after losing Petr Cech and John Terry during Atletico Madrid tie
'If we have to play the kids, we play the kids,' claims the manager
Jose Mourinho sparked a potentially major controversy in the Premier League season when he said tonight he would field a considerably weakened team against Liverpool on Sunday in what will be a critical game in the title race.
Against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-final first leg, the Chelsea manager lost Petr Cech for the rest of the season to a suspected dislocated shoulder and John Terry to an ankle injury which his manager said will mean he would only be back in time to play the final, should Chelsea reach it. They drew 0-0 with Atletico in Spain, laying the groundwork for what they hope will be a victory in the second leg in London next Wednesday.
However, it is the scheduling of the Liverpool game just three days before his side face Atletico that Mourinho was most concerned about, saying that he would seek the permission of Roman Abramovich before going ahead with his plan to play a weaker team at Anfield.
Chelsea trail leaders Liverpool by five points with three games to play and defeat would end their hopes of the title. Manchester City have a six-point deficit to Liverpool but have four games to play, and need Chelsea to win in order to keep their hopes alive. The Premier League rule that forbade clubs from fielding a weakened team no longer exists, after Blackpool fell foul of it in 2011.
Mourinho confirmed that winning the Champions League now took priority over the title race. Bringing up the subject of Sunday’s game himself in the post-match press conference he said, “If we have to play the kids, we play the kids.”
Read more: Comment: Courtois does the job for Atletico
Atletico 0 Chelsea 0 match report
Atletico v Chelsea as it happened
He added: “I can't decide by myself. That's a decision I have to listen to the club. I'm just the manager and I have to listen to the club. The fact that the match is on Sunday, I think puts the problem not in my hands but in the hands of those who decide the game should be on Sunday and not Saturday or Friday.
“We represent English football and are the only team in European competitions. Spain has four and gave them all the conditions to try to have success, so I know what I would do. But I'm not the club. I have to speak to them. I would play with the players who are not going to play Wednesday [against Atletico].”
Asked why that should not be his decision he said: “I'm not the most important person in the club ... everybody is above me. I work for them and have to follow what my club decides.”
Latest in Sport
Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs posts bizarre video of his Miami holiday being invaded by an iguana
Football kits 2015/16: The good, the bad and the downright worst new shirts from around the world for next season
Arturo Vidal to Real Madrid: Transfer news live - Sergio Ramos to Manchester United, Lukas Podolski to leave Arsenal
Copa America 2015: When does it start, what channel is it on and who should I support?
Chelsea 2015/16 home shirt leaked again as new picture appears online
- 1 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 2 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 3 Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
- 4 James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
- 5 Baby rescued 1km out to sea after parents forgot about her
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture