Mourinho masters new mind game to keep players wary

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The Independent Football

The Premiership champions will expect to maintain their winning start to the season against an Anderlecht side which lost all six group stage matches last season.

The Belgian club are unbeaten this season and lead the Jupiler League with 13 points and 17 goals from five matches but lack Chelsea's quality. Which is why Jose Mourinho eschewed his usual bravado to talk up the visitors.

When facing strong teams, like Barcelona, he tends to slight them and so diminish the threat they offer. Weaker teams get praised to deter his side from becoming complacent.

''I didn't want to draw Anderlecht,'' he said. "They have years of experience at this level and are a dangerous side. People will say I am crazy if I do not admit Chelsea have better players and a better team but Anderlecht will fight very hard to reach the next stage.''

Geremi then got carried away as, to prove he was on message with his control freak manager, he added: "Anderlecht are a great team.'' That is an exaggeration but they do have a sharp, in-form goal scorer in Mbo Mpenza, a highly rated young defender in Vincent Kompany, and in Bart Goor a veteran campaigner on the left flank. His powerful running will probably persuade Mourinho to restore Paulo Ferreira to right-back and move William Gallas to left-back to cover for the injured Asier del Horno.

Ricardo Carvalho would then be given his first start since last month's dressing-down by Mourinho for criticising his omission from Chelsea's opening League game. Claude Makelele faces a fitness test; Eidur Gudjohnsen stands by.

The one area in which Anderlecht have an edge is history. They are one of four clubs in this season's Champions' League to have played in the inaugural European Cup 50 years ago, albeit the only ones not to have won it (the others are Real Madrid, Milan and PSV Eindhoven). However, Anderlecht have lost 10 of 11 matches in England and even the draw ended in defeat on penalties, against Tottenham in the 1984 Uefa Cup final.

Last night it seemed even the Belgians did not expect to break that run. Players queued up to say what "an honour'' it was to play Chelsea with Kompany adding: "They are a big team with great players. If you like football you like to watch Chelsea playing.'' He may not find it so enjoyable tonight.

Chelsea: (probable, 4-3-3) Cech; Ferreira, Terry, Carvalho, Gallas; Lampard, Makelele, Essien; Robben, Drogba, Duff.

Anderlecht: (probable, 4-4-2) Zitka; Van den Borre, Tihinen, Kompany, Deschacht; Wilhelmsson, Van der Haeghe, De Man, Goor; Jestrovic, Mpenza.

Referee: W Stark (Germany).

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