Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho expects Liverpool to take extra motivation from the fact that the race for the Premier League title is yet open when both sides clash for the first time this season.
Their last visit to Merseyside ended in disappointments for Brendan Rodgers’ men, who were left ruing the effects of some uncanny slip and flops, following a 2-0 loss which Mourinho explained handed the title to Manchester City last term.
Going into Saturday lunchtime kickoff at Anfield, 12 points separate leaders Chelsea from seventh-placed ‘Kops’ after ten rounds of matches so far, with the former coming from a midweek draw against NK Maribor in Slovenia, a day after the latter had endured an encouraging narrow defeat at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernebeu.
“They have enough motivation from this season,” said the Portuguese boss. “They don’t need to go to last season and especially not for the bad memories. If I was in their position I would go back to last season for the good memories – for the victories they had and the good things they did – but it’s up to them.
“I expect a game when Liverpool know if they lose the game they are 15 points behind, and if they are 15 points behind in November, obviously it is not over but it is difficult.
“If they win the match, instead of 15 they are nine points behind and nine points behind is different from 15, and this is very good motivation for them, so I expect them to try everything to win.”
With the top-biller clash shrouded by a cloud of uncertainty before kickoff, the Blues will for sure go into the third international break of the season, which comes immediately after this weekend’s fixture, top of the league table given that they lead second-placed Southampton by four points.
Mourinho insists Chelsea’s impressive run in the ongoing campaign will survive Liverpool threats.
“Our intention is to win,” he stressed. “When we have the ball we want to try to score goals and when Liverpool have the ball we have to try to stop them scoring goals. This is the ABC of football. I’ve done this since I became a coach, and I’m going to do this until my last day.
“We went to Manchester City and Manchester United to win and for different reasons we couldn’t.
“We go to every match to win but when the season started we knew that in the first 11 matches we had to go to Man United, Man City and Liverpool. We knew we had the most difficult first matches of any team.
“We also played Arsenal at home so if after 11 matches we were mid-table because we lost three matches, it would be normal and acceptable. So tomorrow when we leave Anfield, we have left three of the most difficult stadiums to play in all season, so the points we’re getting, one here, one there, three here, three there – are all important.”
Diego Costa had not been called up to the Spanish squad for their forthcoming Euro 2016 qualifier against Belarus and friendly with Germany, so the striker, 25, “is ready to start”.
“I’m pleased but I want to make it clear I did nothing for that to happen,” the manager said.
“After the match the plan is for Diego to have a period of complete rest – no training, no treatment – and just let him rest for a few days. After that he will continue the specific work he is doing without having a match to play.”
More of the all good news the 51-year-old boss had for reporters on Friday is that he has a full squad to choose from. Cesar Azpilicueta has completed his suspension while both John Obi Mikel and Loic Remy have recovered from knee and groin injuries respectively.