By Tim Harrison
It’s The Sulky One v The Rattled One. Jose Mourinho brings United to the Bridge this weekend in snappy, surly mood, a million miles from the chirpy Special One who did so well at Chelsea.
The Blues manager, on the other hand, has demons of his own.
Tony Conte should have shrugged and smiled when he learnt that Mourinho pre-match comments may have referred to him.
This is called gamesmanship, and Mourinho became the champion on Alex Ferguson’s retirement. Yet Conte has allowed himself to be needled.
Both Chelsea and United have maximum recovery time from their European Tuesday nighters against Roma and Benfica. They clash at 4.30pm on Sunday, both knowing they must keep pace with league leaders Manchester City.
The Blues’ 1-0 win at Bournemouth was emphatic, yet oddly fragile. The goals are coming, but Chelsea still haven’t settled into a free-flowing, free-scoring rhythm.
The signs are good, but the injury list still means Conte is unable to select his perfect team.
Alvaro Morata isn’t back to full match fitness, and was subbed during the match on the south coast – a game in which mazy midfielder Eden Hazard once again showed his prowess. N’Golo Kante’s return can’t come soon enough.
All is not 100% in the Chelsea dressing room, with reports of players irked about heavy training routines when playing three times a week; a situation which didn’t arise last season.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
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