It cannot be right, surely. A game which was supposed to be one of the biggest of the entire Premier League season, a title decider, a game not to be missed, one for all the marbles, is about to be reduced to nothing more than just fulfilling a mandatory obligation.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has declared that he fully intends to play a weakened team against Liverpool on Sunday — which will essentially be his backup players — as he prioritizes the Champions League game against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday instead. Mourinho, of course, is never short of a bluff or two, but this time he seems deadly serious with his intentions.
Seeing as Chelsea are five points behind leaders Liverpool in the Premier League, Mourinho obviously sees the Champions League as the more winnable option at this stage. The Portuguese has received a lot of criticism since declaring his intentions, but the truth is, even though nobody, other than Liverpool fans, can like the idea, it’s really not Mourinho’s fault.
The schedule in England is already busting at the seams every year, even without a winter break, and the idea of change has been banded about for a while now. If the scheduling ruining one of the biggest games of the season doesn’t encourage change, then nothing will. It simply has to happen.
Fans don’t watch the Premier League all season long to see a scheduled anti-climax; players don’t play all season to have to skip (what should be) a big game; and rival clubs, think Manchester City, don’t play their schedule anticipating that a rival will get an easier ride than they did in the exact same fixture. It surely must question the integrity of the competition. City lost to Chelsea and that’s on them, but Liverpool will not, seemingly, have to play that very same Chelsea now.
A similar scenario has happened before, but there comes a time when enough is enough. The Premier League should be helping teams that are in European competition by playing games when it would suit them most, especially either side of European midweek games. How can it possibly affect the opposition teams? They have all week to prepare regardless.
Rotation would still be in effect, although not as thorough as what Mourinho seems to be planning, and certainly not in what should be one of the biggest games of the season. The problem is in the relentlessness of the schedule in England. It’s full on, two and three games a week for the majority of the season. It’s bound to catch up with players at this stage no matter how fit they are; they are only human in the end.
The team Mourinho puts out wont exactly be a team of kids, but it will be significantly weaker than what he could put out given more time between games. It will certainly be weaker than the team City played against earlier in the season, and if the Premier League wants to keep their position as the most watched league around the world, then changes must be made to maintain the high standard they have set for so long.