It's us against the world, says Mourinho the entertainer as Chelsea seek revenge

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His abstinence came to an illuminating end yesterday evening when the Chelsea manager offered his thoughts on Sir Alex Ferguson's crisis at Manchester United, how the world has turned against Premiership champions who would never sacrifice their style, and how Liverpool could not regard themselves as the best team in the Champions' League last season and would be out of this year's title race if they lose to his team on Sunday. Whoever said Chelsea were boring?

This was Mourinho's reaction to days of frustration with the media; one can only assume the discontent that has simmered at Chelsea in the five months since their last European appearance at Anfield will make for equally compelling viewing on their return tonight.

Memories of Luis Garcia's controversial early goal and a semi-final exit at the home of the eventual winners of the European Cup are still raw for Chelsea, although their decision not to undergo the ritual pre-match training session on their opponents' ground last night owed more to a desire to approach the Group G game as a Premiership fixture than a deliberate avoidance of nightmares.

Chelsea have continued with the fine art of winning football matches during their manager's absence from our newspapers and television screens, his reaction to stories linking him with the England job and an English passport, but Mourinho's anger at criticism of their dominance and style has risen in accordance with their lead at the top of the Premiership. Despite insisting he would only discuss the game with Liverpool at the start of the press conference he could not be stopped once he was in full flow.

"I read Peter Crouch saying that it is England against Chelsea, I can tell him it is the world against Chelsea," Mourinho declared. "Apart from the Fulham Road, the Kings Road and my place in Portugal, which is very small and has only 50,000 people in it, after that the world is against us.

"When Manchester United dominated the Premiership it was not boring, when Arsenal dominated the Premiership it was not boring, now we are not dominating, we have only won seven games, and yet it is boring. We are a team without secrets, it is 4-3-3 and wingers all the time."

The Chelsea manager has allies in this observation from those he will encounter in the red corner tonight, with the Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, the man who repeated his achievement of lifting the Uefa Cup and Champions' League in successive seasons, and Sami Hyypia both insisting the champions have raised the bar rather than made competition redundant. "I was asked last season if I was jealous of Chelsea and their money," said the Finnish international Hyypia. "But if somebody has resources like they have then it would be stupid not to spend it. There is talk that they are boring, but is winning boring? We had it in 2001. When you are successful there are always people who want to criticise you but Chelsea are not bad for English football."

Not that Liverpool will countenance a Chelsea victory tonight. Both clubs made only minor improvements to their squad this summer, and though many believe the European champions needed to make more wholesale changes to compete with Mourinho's men, Benitez does not consider himself at a disadvantage. "They have strong points and maybe some weak points," he said. "If two boxers fight and they both have weak points then the important thing is who hits the other's weak point first, [as] that can change everything. We will have a similar approach to last year. They are doing similar things with different players and I have a lot of confidence. We have a lot of respect for them but we are not afraid because we know we can beat them."

Liverpool came ever closer to defeating Chelsea last season until, at the fifth and most valuable attempt, they succeeded. Mourinho, inevitably, is claiming the upper hand on his Iberian rival and denied any suggestion that vengeance would be on his agenda at Anfield, although his persistent mention of Garcia's goal, and whether it did indeed cross the line of the Kop goal, betrayed his declaration that this is just another game. He said: "If you talk of revenge then you have to say we are winning 3-1. It is just one more game for me. I read somewhere that they know how to beat us but it is 3-1 so they also know how to lose. We beat them twice in the Premier League, once in the Carling Cup Final, drew once and lost once. Every game was close, the scoreline was always the minimum difference, but the overall score is 3-1 to us."

Mourinho missed May's tumultuous final in Istanbul as he was travelling home from the airport, a much better excuse than that offered by Chelsea's £23m midfielder Michael Essien, who admitted: "I was asleep."

The Chelsea manager also dismissed claims that Ferguson is facing the beginning of the end of his reign at Old Trafford as a consequence of the 10-point gap between the clubs only two months into the campaign. "I don't think he is under pressure because somebody booed; the pressure is on the next Manchester United manager when he leaves one day," he said. "That is the man under pressure."

Liverpool (probable, 4-4-1-1): Reina; Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Traoré; Garcia, Hamann, Alonso, Riise; Gerrard; Crouch.

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

Referee: M De Santis (Italy).

Jewels in duels: Three key confrontations from tonight's Anfield treasure chest

Gerrard v Lampard

Gerrard, the Liverpool captain, sacrificed his natural attacking instincts in both legs of last season's semi-final to help quell the influence of his fellow England midfielder. It worked. Lampard, tired and kept out of range of the Liverpool goal, was reduced to pumping high balls into the area during the desperate final minutes of the second leg as Benitez secured one tactical triumph over Mourinho.

Crouch v Terry

One early and costly defensive lapse aside, Terry, the Chelsea captain, was largely untroubled during the semi-final second leg at Anfield, although the pace of Djibril Cissé did cause some problems as the visitors pressed in search of the away goal that would have spared the tears on the final whistle. In Crouch he faces an unfamiliar problem and one that could hold the key to Liverpool's prospects of a repeat result.

Finnan v Duff

The absence of winger Duff from Chelsea's starting line-up in April highlighted the fatigue and the lack of options that even Mourinho faced towards the end of last season. The acquisition of Wright-Phillips has addressed that problem in the wide areas, but it is the prospect of Duff showing what a difference he could have made last season that adds to the weight of his duel with international team-mate Finnan.

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