Jose Mourinho believes the fact Fulham have played just one game under new manager Felix Magath makes preparing for today’s match even tougher.
Speaking ahead of our visit to Craven Cottage, the Portuguese addressed the difficulties encountered when facing a team under the guidance of a new manager.
Magath, who replaced Rene Meulensteen less than a fortnight ago, oversaw Fulham’s 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion last weekend, the only match Mourinho has been able to study in order to ensure his side are as tactically sound as possible.
‘It’s more difficult, you can’t focus on the games under Meulensteen because he’s not there anymore,’ said the Chelsea boss. ‘The new manager comes in and changes the philosophy, new players come in, the manager thinks differently.
‘To study the opponent we have one match, which is the game against West Brom. After that they’ve had one week to work and we don’t know if the coach is changing philosophy, tactics, players, so it’s difficult.
‘We are not the kind of team that worries about the opponent, we try to play the way we want to play and the way we feel is the best way to play. We just know they are a much better side than the number of points they have.’
One player expected to start for the Blues this afternoon is Eden Hazard, who has stood out with a string of impressive displays during the last couple of months. He will play his 100th Chelsea game if he does, a total achieved in under two seasons.
Mourinho feels the young Belgian is in need of a break and hopes that may be afforded by Marc Wilmots, the manager of his national side, when he heads off on international duty next week.
‘He needs a rest, it would be perfect on Wednesday if his national coach didn’t play him, but he cannot have a rest for the club to then go and play friendly matches,’ said the Blues boss.
‘He needs a rest and they could give him a rest. He’s so important for us and I would prefer him on the pitch even if he’s tired as I know he can produce things. I prefer to have him on the pitch than not.’
With Chelsea currently leading third-placed Manchester City by three points, albeit having played a game more, we have an opportunity to open up an even bigger lead over Manuel Pellegrini’s side due to the fact they are on cup duty for the next two weekends.
Mourinho, though, believes City are in an enviable position.
‘It’s a privilege for them,’ he said. ‘To play and to know what happened before, to know if they need to win, if they can drop a couple of points, how many points they need to go top of the league, to play after is always a big advantage.
‘I prefer to be in the front with the same number of matches, not to be in front in a fake situation. At this moment we cannot say we are leaders because if Man City win their game in hand they are leaders.’
With regards to team selection, Mourinho expects to be without the services of David Luiz once again due to injury, although his compatriot Oscar should be available. Generally speaking, the Blues boss has been pleased with our form of late, particularly when taking a testing run of fixtures into account.
‘Oscar played a few minutes against Galatasaray and he didn’t have a problem,’ he explained. ‘David Luiz didn’t play on Wednesday, I don’t think he’s ready but I don’t know.
‘We are playing consecutive matches and have no rest. When we played City [in the FA Cup] they didn’t play in midweek, we had to go to West Brom.
‘We haven’t had easy matches; we went to City in the Cup, we went to West Brom, who needed points, and we played against Everton, one of the best teams. After that we went to Istanbul, which wasn’t an easy game to play.
‘We are in a difficult period but we haven’t lost in the Premier League for a long time. We got an acceptable result in the Champions League and we lost in the FA Cup against the best team so, even in a difficult period, I don’t think we are doing badly.’
Click for details of today’s ‘Wherever They May Be’ show on Chelsea TV.