Jose Mourinho has hit out the Premier League fixture list that sees his Chelsea side take on Fulham on Saturday, less than 72 hours after their clash with Galatasaray in Istanbul. After a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, Chelsea return to Premier League needing a victory to ensure they maintain their one-point advantage at the top of the table. But Mourinho is under no doubt that the failure of the Premier League to make accommodations for teams involved in the Champions League leaves his side at a disadvantage.
“We all prefer to play game after game after game but we all want to do it with conditions to recover, with equal conditions for every team and the sense that no team has a privilege in the fixture choices, and every team in a country has the same privilege to be a little bit protected in relation to European matches,” he said, according to Chelsea’s official website. “It happens in Portugal, Spain, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Russia, Greece, it is everyone else.
“Here it makes the players' job difficult, not the manager. I can have a match every day, it is not a problem for me or the people who make the fixtures because I don't run and they don't run.”
Following a strong start in Turkey, Chelsea faded after Galatasaray made necessary tactical alterations. Explaining the difficult schedule the club has faces, Mourinho claimed in his Friday press-conference that he doesn’t yet know if he will rotate his lineup at Craven Cottage.
“We arrived back from Turkey at 6 a.m. 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.”
Fulham have plenty of their own concerns right now. The club remains bottom of the Premier League table, four points from safety, and are now led by their third different manager of the season. In his first match since replacing Rene Meulensteen, Felix Magath helped lead Fulham to a 1-1 result at West Brom, but will ultimately need wins and several of them if he is to keep the club in the Premier League in 2014-2015.
Magath has shared Mourinho’s view that Chelsea’s schedule will aid Fulham’s chances of getting a result. And in his first occasion leading Fulham out at Craven Cottage, he is confident that his team can put in a strong showing against their local rivals.
“We have to fight, we have to put pressure on Chelsea, and if we’re able to make pressure then we have a chance for the game,” he said, according to Fulham’s official website.
“The training sessions show me that the players are becoming more confident. We’ve worked very hard and we’ve worked very well, so I’m convinced that we can make Saturday a good game. The atmosphere is very good and I look forward to Saturday.”
The German, renowned for his tough training methods, has revealed that big January signing Kostas Mitrouglou is still a week away from full fitness. Damien Duff and Fernando Amorebieta are also ruled out, but Darren Bent comes back into contention.
For Chelsea, David Luiz could return from a minor injury. Nemanja Matic is available again after being ineligible in the Champions League. The midfielder, who has made a big impression since his return to the club in January, is all-but sure to come back into the side, possibly in place of Frank Lampard.
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick off at 10 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBCSN, with a live stream available via NBC Sports Live Extra.