Sport Chelsea

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Weakened team may yet land Mourinho in hot water

Sam Wallace

Published 25/04/2014 | 02:30

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Chelsea's English defender John Terry (Front L) and Chelsea's Brazilian midfielder Ramires (Front R) celebrate after beating Manchester City 1-0 during an English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on February 3, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ANDREW YATES
RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR LIVE SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS        (Photo credit should read ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images)
Chelsea captain John Terry is facing a race to reach fitness for next week's return leg against Atletico Madrid, while teammate Ramires will miss the title run-in after being handed a four-match ban by the FA. Photo: ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images

The Premier League will monitor closely Chelsea's team selection against Liverpool on Sunday, with sanctions still a possibility if it is decided that Jose Mourinho fields a side that is provocatively short of experienced first-team players.

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The league's competition rules have a proviso under the category of "full-strength teams", rule L.19, that "in every league match each participating club shall field a full-strength team". Although the rule is no more detailed than that, there is still scope for action.

If it was felt that Mourinho had picked a side of players from his U-21s list for the game at Anfield then the Premier League's board could punish the club, although the ultimate judgment would likely be made by an independent commission.

It is a delicate situation for the Premier League, which has scope to act if it feels that it needs to protect the integrity of the competition, but would be required to make a very difficult judgment on what constituted a "weakened" side.

The Chelsea manager will hold a pre-match press conference this lunchtime in which he is expected to clarify his plans.

Mourinho said on Tuesday night that he might have to play "the kids" against Liverpool given the proximity of the second leg of Chelsea's Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

Atletico also play on Sunday with their kick-off against Valencia, also a crucial game in the title run-in, scheduled at 5.0 Spanish time, two hours after the game at Anfield begins.

Mourinho is already on his third English FA charge of the season, this time for what the governing body considers an attack on the integrity of the referees' chief Mike Riley, head of the Professional Game Match Officials organisation.

Chelsea captain John Terry is still hoping to be fit to face Atletico on Wednesday, having had to come off in the first leg with an ankle injury.

Midfielder Ramires will miss the rest of the league season after being handed a four-match ban by the FA yesterday for elbowing Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson. (© Independent News Service)

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