Liverpool v Chelsea: Chelsea will escape action if Jose Mourinho plays weakened side at Anfield
The Blues manager has hinted he will field a weakened side to face Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday with the Champions League semi-final second leg against Atletico on the horizon
Thursday 24 April 2014
Chelsea are unlikely to be punished by the Premier League if Jose Mourinho carries out his proposal to field an alternate side at Liverpool on Sunday to safeguard Champions League hopes.
With the Blues five points adrift of Premier League leaders Liverpool with three games to play, Mourinho - subject to Football Association disciplinary action along with assistant Rui Faria and midfielder Ramires following last weekend's controversial home loss to Sunderland - wishes to prioritise next Wednesday's semi-final second leg with Atletico Madrid after drawing the first in Spain 0-0 on Tuesday night.
Third-placed Manchester City, who could overhaul Liverpool if Chelsea win and they win their game in-hand, could be angered if Mourinho opts not to utilise his frontline players at Anfield.
But the Blues, who insist they have quality throughout the squad, are not expected to infringe regulations that were relaxed after Blackpool were punished in 2011.
Clubs can select any player in their 25-man squad list without fear of sanction; action would likely only be taken if a number of younger players from outside the list are selected.
Mourinho, who plans to discuss his selection options with the Chelsea hierarchy, is without goalkeeper Petr Cech (dislocated shoulder) for the remainder of the season and captain John Terry (ankle) for at least a week.
But Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel, Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are among those who are likely to feature at Anfield.
Lampard and Mikel are both suspended for the Atletico clash after picking up first-leg bookings, while January signings Matic and Salah are ineligible in Europe.
The Champions League, and reaching the May 24 final in Lisbon against Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, is now Mourinho's priority and defender Gary Cahill believes Chelsea can take comfort from responding to adversity in their 2012 European Cup-winning campaign.
"It's never ideal to lose players but we have the squad to cope with it," Cahill said.
"We look back at how we coped with a similar situation on the way to winning it in 2012 and it gives us confidence.
"We seem to be able to grind out results when we need to in this competition.
"We're really, really close to the final now, we have one more game at home and have to give it every single thing we've got."
Two years ago the Blues were out of domestic contention - they finished sixth - but now they are in the title hunt, albeit with a slim chance of the trophy after last Saturday's loss to Sunderland.
The Portuguese's happy demeanour has soured in recent weeks and his selection suggestion could be, in part, due to the refusal of the football authorities to move the Premier League contest forward to allow his side more time to prepare for the Atletico clash.
Mourinho was given further reason to be unhappy as he faces disciplinary proceedings following his sarcastic appraisal of the officials after the Sunderland defeat.
Mourinho and Faria, who faces two counts of misconduct, have until next Monday at 6pm to respond, while Ramires has until Thursday evening at 6pm to decide how to respond to his violent conduct charge for striking Sebastian Larsson.
The Brazil midfielder, who has been sent off twice already this term, faces a premature end to his domestic season.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
Latest in Sport
Everton vs Wolfsburg match report: Tim Howard hands Everton clear advantage
Think before you ink: Manchester United fan gets Sir Alex Ferguson tattoo - and will regret it for the rest of his life
Paul Scholes column: Rio Ferdinand and John Terry row was bad but they could have kept playing for England
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Bayern Munich vs Manchester City report: Jerome Boateng thrashes home winner against former team
- 1 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 2 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
- 5 Cocaine and cannabis haul hidden in Vatican car seized by French police
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'