The eyes of the soccer world will turn to Anfield on Sunday, but Jose Mourinho could ruin the spectacle everyone hopes to witness.
On Wednesday, Mourinho threatened to field a weakened Chelsea team against Liverpool, despite the game being a potential Premier League title decider.
The Chelsea manager would do so to protest the Premier League’s refusal to play the game a day or two earlier. Chelsea plays the second leg of its UEFA Champions League semifinal against Atletico Madrid next Wednesday, and Mourinho thinks English authorities should give his team extra rest as is done in other countries.
“The fact that the match is on Sunday, I think that puts the problem not in my hands but in the hands of those who decide the game should be Sunday, not Saturday or Friday,” Mourinho said, according to the Guardian. “We represent English football and are the only (English) team in European competition.
“Spain have four and give them all the conditions to try to have success. So I know what I would do. I would play the players who are not going to play on Wednesday. My priority is the Champions League.”
Mourinho prefaced his threat by pointing out that he would seek permission from Chelsea (and its owner Roman Abramovich) before sending anything short of his best lineup onto the field against Liverpool.
This could be one more of Mourinho’s famous “mind games” or a novel way of controlling public perception before, during and after a crucial game. Mourinho’s comments must be greeted with skepticism in most cases.
Chelsea will be without captain John Terry and goalkeeper Petr Cech on Sunday after both suffered injuries against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
First-place Liverpool leads second-place Chelsea by five points with three games to play. Liverpool would pull away from Chelsea for good with a win, leaving only Manchester City as a rival for the league championship.