Jose Mourinho says he has been left with no choice but to send out an understrength Chelsea team in tonight’s fourth-round League Cup match at Arsenal.
Mourinho is fuming that League Cup fixture planners decided to schedule Chelsea’s trip to Emirates Stadium just 48 hours after his side’s 2-1 win over Manchester City in the Premier League.
The Chelsea manager claims Arsenal have been given an unfair advantage because they played at Crystal Palace on Saturday lunchtime, giving them extra time to recover before the London derby.
Mourinho’s complaints ignore the fact that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger routinely fields shadow squads made up of fringe players and youngsters in the League Cup, but that did not stop the Portuguese coach from letting rip when asked if he would field a strong team for the last 16 tie.
“We are going to give the game that the people that put the game on Tuesday want. If they want a big game, we cannot give the big game,” Mourinho said. “If they want the players that were playing today [Sunday], we cannot give them that. If they want Arsenal to win a trophy, that’s a help.
“If they want a big game between two big teams in London, they should put the game on Wednesday and not on Tuesday, because I am not going to do that.”
Mourinho claimed that, out of respect for Chelsea’s fans, he would stop short of sending out a starting line-up made up entirely of youth-team players.
But he has no intention of putting his key stars under what he believes is unfair duress.
“It’s not the plan, because we have to respect also our fans. We discussed that in the club. We have to protect our players,” he said.
“We cannot put our players in two matches in the space of three days.
“Arsenal played Saturday at 12.30pm, so two and a half days to rest and to prepare. So I hope they all enjoy.”
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