Jose Mourinho believes Sunday’s opponents Liverpool will remain in the title hunt this season for several reasons, including their fixture schedule.
The Christmas programme, in which this weekend’s game is the third of four in quick succession, is a period when all sides face similar exertions but unlike the other three clubs in the top four at the moment, the Merseysiders are not involved in European competition having finished seventh last season.
‘Liverpool can win the League because they have quality, ambition, because Brendan Rodgers is good and because they have time to prepare tactically because they are not in the Champions
League or even the Europa League,’ Mourinho said.
‘Chelsea players are going to play 60 matches and Liverpool players are going to play 40 matches. Brendan is doing fantastic but he is training every week in a calm way with one week to prepare every game which is a big advantage compared to other teams, not in terms of resting but in terms of work. I have not done many tactical work sessions since pre-season.’
Mourinho points out a manager must still work well to take advantage if a good amount of preparation time is available to him, and praises Rodgers’s solution for the absence of his captain Steven Gerrard who will again be unavailable on Sunday due to injury.
‘They are playing in a different way. The team is solid, three players in midfield, all of them positional. Henderson likes to go forward and come back and go and come back all the time and there is more freedom for the two guys on the side – either Sterling or Coutinho or whoever they play on the side, so I think Brendan was intelligent in the way he adapted the team without Steven Gerrard.’
Liverpool’s defeat against Manchester City on Thursday puts them three points behind leaders Arsenal and one behind Chelsea going into our meeting this weekend.
‘When there is a match between two of the sides at the top it is about the points you can get and the points you don’t give to a direct opponent, but it is also about the points you can lose in relation to the teams coming up from behind,’ warned Mourinho, ‘because I think this year it will be not just hard to win the title, it will also be hard to get in the top four.
‘Everton lost on Thursday so they go a little bit down but at the moment but everybody is there.
‘I think Man City is the big favourite to win it. Liverpool have one week to prepare a match which is an unbelievable advantage and Man United despite being a few points behind still have the reality of the last years.
‘Arsenal is like us, they play in the Champions League and they are trying to improve from the last years as for many years they are not at the top of the league. Chelsea won the league a few years ago but in the last two years were 24 and 14 points behind the leader.
‘So we try to finish in the top four and if we manage to do that, let’s see what else we can do.’
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