Chelsea

Jose Mourinho Will Be Employing Risky Strategy with Weakened Chelsea FA Cup Team

Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho, left, celebrates victory at the end of the game during their English Premier League soccer match against Manchester City at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Monday Feb. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Clint Hughes)
Clint Hughes/Associated Press
Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2014

Chelsea are on a roll.

It will have been 15 games, over two months and 70 days come Saturday since they last suffered a defeat in any competition.

The date was Dec. 7 and it was Stoke City who got the better of Jose Mourinho's side, fighting back from a goal down to eventually grind out a 3-2 victory.

Mark Feb. 15 in your diaries, however. It's the day when the Blues' run will come to an end.

That's if reports in The Mirror are to be taken seriously, with speculation suggesting Mourinho will field a weakened team at Etihad Stadium for Chelsea's FA Cup clash with Manchester City.

According to the report, the Chelsea boss plans on giving the likes of Mohamed Salah and Andre Schurrle starting berths, resting Ramires, Oscar and the in-form Eden Hazard.

With big matches against Everton and Galatasaray on the horizon, it's Mourinho's plan to fine tune his squad for the run-in by allowing some players the weekend off.

The FA Cup match-up with City is a big part of that run-in, though. There's much more than a quarter-final place at stake at the Etihad.

City will be looking to get one over on the Blues after they were humbled last week with Branislav Ivanovic's excellent goal bringing to an end their unbeaten record at home in the Premier League.

Clint Hughes/Associated Press

Since then Manuel Pellegrini's side have suffered a goalless draw with an unfancied Norwich City, while their midweek clash with Sunderland was postponed on account of extreme weather conditions.

Indeed, it's been a frustrating fortnight for City and Chelsea should be looking to make it worse.

When a rival is down, those around them should look to compound the misery. By knocking them out of the FA Cup, Mourinho will add to their woes.

By fielding a much-changed line-up, it will severely hamper Chelsea's chances to do that. And should City win—or worse still, do so at a canter—their beaks will be up once more. Confidence will be restored and with the Capital One Cup on Mar. 2, the possibility of an unprecedented quadruple will be a realistic possibility.

Mourinho should be going to the Etihad sniffing blood, riling Pellegrini even more by reveling in another victory.

Clint Hughes/Associated Press

Besides, with each game Chelsea remain undefeated, the more their reputation grows—the more they win the psychological battle with their opponents before a ball has even been kicked.

The mindset of players counts for so much in the modern game and it's something Chelsea themselves have thrived off in the past. They cannot lose that now, especially with a little over two months of the campaign outstanding.

Mourinho has made a point of suggesting this Chelsea team, his little horse, isn't ready to lift the Premier League trophy just yet. They are ready for an assault on the FA Cup, however, and as history has shown, it's a trophy that can hold plenty of milk to feed a maturing foal.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes

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