Jose Mourinho has hit out at the fixture list as Chelsea are made to play just three days after a gruelling Champions League encounter against Galatasaray. The Saturday evening kick-off would have been acceptable had Chelsea played at Stamford Bridge in the midweek. As it is, the players have made a long trip to Turkey and had a difficult match.
Craven Cottage is a place where we have struggled in recent years, and this is certainly not an ideal preparation for the match. According to the latest sportsbook odds, Fulham are 7/1 to win the match and 15/4 to draw. These are good odds for a relegation threatened team against the table leaders.
Further, Chelsea have already been looking tired in the last few weeks. Players are making poor choices on the pitch and it is a sign that they are not 100%. Oscar, especially, has been very poor since the FA Cup win over Stoke City. Speaking to the club’s official site, Mourinho said:
“We arrived back from Turkey at 6am in the morning yesterday, we trained yesterday with four or five guys and the rest were doing some recovery, and we haven’t trained today yet so I don’t know the squad yet.”
Reacting to Fulham manager Felix Magath’s comments ahead of the match, he continued:
“We don’t play Sunday which would be difficult anyway, we play Saturday which is even more difficult, and he knows that because he has experience at this level for many years. I have to praise him because he is honest in his approach.”
The Premier League appears powerless to stop the TV companies from deciding the schedule. It is one of the few good things – in a neutral sense – pointed out by Sir Alex Ferguson. Given the ever-increasing TV money, this influence is likely to get bigger. Yet, it is not like that this Sunday is packed with top matches. This weekend’s ‘Super Sunday’ features none of the teams in the title race.
Lampard was also quick to raise this issue. Mourinho supported him by saying that it is about time everyone took notice.
“When a player like Frank Lampard, who has a right to speak as he has played an unbelievable number of matches for this club and more than 100 matches for England, and he is not a man who always speaks a lot about his opinions, when a man like him expresses his feelings, I think this country should listen.”
Arsenal play against Stoke City on Saturday too, but they have had an extra day’s rest. Further, they did not have to worry about the long-distance travels since their Champions League match against Bayern Munich was at the Emirates.
Despite this, Chelsea must have enough quality and squad strength to see off Fulham.