Jose Mourinho suggested following his side’s 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid in midweek in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie that he is considering resting players this weekend against Liverpool.
But is the Portuguese boss making one last ditch attempt to play mind games with Brendan Rodgers and his side?
"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. We represent English football and are the only [English] team in European competition,” he explained.
"We lost four players – two with injuries and two with yellow cards – but we will fight. If we have to play the kids, we play the kids.”
The suggestion that Chelsea may play a ‘weakened’ side this Sunday will no doubt come as music to the ears of Brendan Rodgers and every fan on the Kop but I have serious reservations about whether the Special One is telling the truth.
On the one hand he is sending a message to the FA over the scheduling of the fixture and on the other hand he is sending a message to Liverpool that Mourinho has given up on the title.
Certainly Liverpool must now be favourites for both the Premier League title and the three points on Sunday, having gone unbeaten all season and getting themselves into a position where if they win their remaining games, the title is theirs.
It’s not over until it’s over however and possible defeat against Chelsea on Sunday would not only invite Manchester City back into the mix (they have a game in hand and are six points behind) but certainly would make life more difficult fore Liverpool.
I would expect Rodgers and his team to be fully focused on the job in hand having gotten so close and come so far but it only takes one slip for the race to be blown wide open again. If they beat Chelsea on Sunday, the title will likely be settled but lose and Chelsea would be just two points behind with two games left to play.
Mourinho may well be trying to take Liverpool’s proverbial eye off the ball with his comments here – I very much doubt he will play a weakened side on Sunday apart from the obvious exclusions through injury – I highly doubt that he will play the ‘kids’ as he implied.
The Special One may well have one eye on the Champions League but I don’t believe for a second he has completely given up on the Premier League just yet and he will know better than anyone that Sunday could be a day to strike fear and doubt into the hearts and minds of Liverpool.
These comments are Mourinho’s last gasp attempts to toy with Brendan Rodgers and give the Reds a false sense of security and, you never know, it might just work. It wouldn't be the first time this term he has played down Chelsea's title challenge and, from the sounds of it, it'll likely not be the last.
Do you think he'll play a weakened team this weekend?