Jose Mourinho claimed that Chelsea are the favourites for next month’s FA Cup quarter-final because they are not suffering from the kind of fixture congestion that he believes is threatening to drag Manchester United down.
In the wake of a narrow 2-1 win at Blackburn, the United manager said his mind was too full of the club’s upcoming commitment to even think about a return to Stamford Bridge.
“I have no reaction,” he said. “I have to play St Etienne on Wednesday, I have to play the League Cup final on Sunday. I have to play hopefully another opponent in the Europa League. We have to fight for a top-four position in the Premier League.
“Chelsea can only think about the FA Cup because they are champions and have nothing else to fight for.”
Antonio Conte might disagree with Mourinho that his side are already champions but the Chelsea manager has every right to feel confident about overcoming United. The last time the two sides met in October, Chelsea’s 4-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge represented Mourinho’s heaviest league defeat of his managerial career. Manchester United have won twice at Stamford Bridge in 15 years.
Blackburn vs Manchester United player ratings
While Mourinho had been critical of his players in the wake of Thursday’s 3-0 win over St Etienne in the Europa League, he thought Saturday’s shocks that saw Burnley and Leicester eliminated by Lincoln and Millwall had concentrated United’s minds against a side that are 23rd in the Championship.
“They really felt it was a difficult match,” he said. “What happened yesterday with every Premier League team finding itself in a difficult situation made them more alert. The players knew it would be difficult and they came with the right attitude.