Liverpool v Chelsea: Premier League to keep eye on Jose Mourinho team selection for Premier League meeting at Anfield
The Premier League will monitor closely Chelsea’s team selection against Liverpool on Sunday with sanctions still a possibility if it is decided that Jose Mourinho fields a side that is provocatively short of experienced first-team players.
The league’s competition rules have a proviso under the category of “full-strength teams”, rule L.19, that “in every league match each participating club shall field a full-strength team”. Although the rule is no more detailed than that, there is still scope for action.
If it was felt that Mourinho had picked a side of players from his Under-21s list for the game at Anfield then the Premier League’s board could punish the club, although the ultimate judgement would likely be made by an independent commission.
It is a delicate situation for the Premier League, which has scope to act if it feels that it needs to protect the integrity of the competition, but would be required to make a very difficult judgement on what constituted a “weakened” side. The Chelsea manager will hold a pre-match press conference this lunchtime in which he is expected to clarify his plans.
Mourinho said on Tuesday night that he might have to play “the kids” against Liverpool given the proximity of the second leg of Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
Atletico also play on Sunday with their kick-off against Valencia, also a crucial game in the title run-in, scheduled at 5pm Spanish time, two hours after the game at Anfield begins.
Although the Premier League abolished the weakened-teams rule that Blackpool fell foul of in 2011, it still has the remit to punish Chelsea should it see fit. Whether it would be prepared to take that battle on is another matter.
Mourinho is already on his third Football Association charge of the season, this time for what the governing body considers an attack on the integrity of the referees’ chief Mike Riley, head of the Professional Game Match Officials organisation.
The Chelsea captain John Terry is still hoping to be fit to face Atletico in the second leg on Wednesday having had to come off in the first leg with an ankle injury.
Midfielder Ramires will miss the rest of the league season after being handed a four-match ban by the FA for elbowing Sunderland’s Sebastian Larsson.
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