Jose Mourinho yesterday (Friday) expressed his wish for today’s FA Cup fifth-round tie against Manchester City to be decided by a single match, but today he makes clear that does not mean a reckless approach from his team.
With Chelsea very much in the hunt for the league title and the Champions League knockout stage starting this month, it is easy to see why an avoidable extra game is unwanted, and that is one of the reasons why the manager and his players will approach today with the same attacking intentions that brought success against Manuel Pellegrini’s side a fortnight ago.
However as he looks ahead to the tea-time rematch, Mourinho says: ‘I prefer a replay than lose and be out the Cup, that is for sure.’
The thought explains why Chelsea won’t necessarily throw caution to the wind if the score is level going into the closing stages of today’s game, with a place in the quarter-finals at stake.
‘Some matches you are 0-0 or 1-1 and you feel you can win, and some matches you are 0-0 or 1-1 and you feel you can’t win,’ Mourinho says.
‘If it is 0-0 or 1-1 and I feel I can’t win I try not to lose. If I feel I can I will gamble but it depends on the game.’
Ashley Cole is in line for a return to the defence with Gary Cahill a doubt and John Terry definitely missing. Terry has a gluteus muscle injury but Mourinho is hopeful a week’s gap before the next game will be long enough for a complete recovery.
‘I miss him,’ the manager says about his captain. Looking at today’s opponents, Mourinho discounts the idea that a team which deals effectively with Yaya Toure goes a long way to dealing with Man City. He also believes a Chelsea win in this FA Cup game would not have a major psychological impact on our opponents’ championship challenge.
‘Man City are good all over. If you close the right side then Kolarov makes fantastic crosses from the other side. If you close Toure then Silva comes between the lines and he creates. They are good in set pieces and in every aspect of the game. But Yaya Toure is so important that the FA decided that he had to play this game!
‘If Chelsea win today then Man City can’t win four trophies, like their manager said is their target for the season. But if you cannot win four but you can win three, that is a lot.
‘Big teams know they can lose against other big teams.’