Jose Mourinho will make changes to the side for the opening of the Champions League campaign and has put those team choices into context.
The manager shared his thoughts on player selection when speaking to the media ahead of the home game against Maccabi Tel Aviv, when a second competition is added to the season’s schedule.
A good start at Stamford Bridge on matchday one is important to avoid the type of difficult group-stage tests Chelsea overcame well the previous two years, and Mourinho highlighted what the squad has achieved in the very recent past as a source of strength at this time.
‘It is the same the fans sing every game,’ said Mourinho. ‘We know what we are. We are champions of England.
‘We have started so bad but it is not because of that that somebody can steal what we are. Nobody can steal our trophies or our history. Some teams have to go back years for good results. We have to go back months.
‘Now we play a new competition. There are zero points for everyone and I know that two years ago we lost the first match at home and last season we drew and we had to win games in Germany and Lisbon, so if we can win tomorrow we put ourselves in a better position. After this we go to Porto and Kiev, two difficult matches away so it is important we win tomorrow and that is what we are going to try to do.’
Mourinho emphasised that he likes his squad as whole as well as the players he has chosen so far and when he makes a couple of changes to the starting line-up for tomorrow’s game, it is because he wants to alter the dynamic of the team and give chances to players who have been working hard for them. It is not because he has a problem with the players they come in for.
‘I know exactly the consequence of my selection decisions but I cannot worry about what people say or write,’ he added.
Oscar has recovered from injury and although not in top condition, is in the squad for tomorrow’s game, as is new left-back Baba Rahman. Falcao misses out due to a minor tendon problem but is expected back for the weekend.
‘Every team that is in the Champions League is a team in condition to get results,’ assessed our manager when asked about the strength of our opponents from Israel.
‘In their qualification play-off Maccabi Tel Aviv were good enough to beat Basel, a team that knocked Liverpool out the Champions League last year and beat Chelsea two years ago.
‘We know we are the better team and we have to prove that in the game. But I respect Maccabi. I have watched them in many games and I did my study and know the team. I also have information that they have trained in a different tactical system and they probably come to play with five defenders.’
That was the same tactic deployed by Watford against Chelsea in the FA Cup last season. Slavisa Jokanovic, the current coach of tomorrow’s opponents, was in charge that day.
'We are prepared for both ways they may play. We trust ourselves but respect is a good thing in football.
‘We have to go game by game, especially in the Premier League,’ said Mourinho.
‘In the Champions League was need to qualify for the next stage because it is important for the status of the club, important economically and for us as professionals. If we can get three points tomorrow it will be a first step.’