Mourinho: Our best away performance
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has again criticised his side’s fixture schedule, saying it is a “big coincidence” that they have to play three games in six days, with two away from home.
• Lythell: Hazard's star turn
Mourinho’s words follow on from his statement last week, when he said the Premier League “laugh” at the Blues because they “can do nothing” about the schedule.
As a result, the Portuguese says he will be forced to give his players a day off ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League fixture with Steaua Bucharest -- something he would not usually do.
“It’s like preparation for the Christmas period,” he said. “OK, after that we have a week with the Capital One Cup [against Sunderland] where we can make decisions and change the team. We of course make the Premier League a more important target than the Capital One Cup, and in that match, for sure, we are going to make many changes, but this week is a hard week.
“We start the week on a Sunday, not even a Saturday, playing with Southampton, and finish on a Saturday, so for clubs the season is Saturday-Sunday, for us it’s Sunday-Saturday. So once more, when it comes to fixtures, we are always in trouble.
“Look at the ones that go from Saturday to Sunday and look at the ones that go from Sunday to Saturday... it’s a big coincidence. So in seven days we have three matches, two of them consecutively away, but we have to cope with it, and just make a big effort.
“I don’t like to give a day off before a Champions League game but I will have to give a day off on Sunday. I don’t think it’s good for their body, I don’t think it’s good for their heads. I like to do recovering by the physiological point of view but I think the mental point of view is more important, so tomorrow when we are back, they have a free Sunday to disconnect because I think it’s important for them.
“Tomorrow we have to give everything to fight for the points. We have more points away from home in these two matches than we did in the first five so we are OK, but of course we have to try for three more points.”
Meanwhile, Ashley Cole is set to return to the Chelsea team against either Stoke or Steaua, with the victories against Southampton and Sunderland having featured Cesar Azpilicueta at left-back.
“It’s a position where I have alternatives, where I have two players for the same position,” Mourinho said. “So for sure, tomorrow or Wednesday Ashley is playing.”