WATCH: I know Frank’s tactics for the big game, claims Mourinho
Jose Mourinho ramped up the mind games for Tottenham’s clash at Chelsea by suggesting he knows Frank Lampard’s tactics for today’s Premier League match.
Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge for the first time since taking over their rivals, knowing that if Spurs win they will overtake Chelsea in the race for a place in next season’s Champions League.
Lampard was in charge at Derby last season when Leeds were caught spying on their training sessions and yesterday Mourinho claimed he knew Chelsea would deploy three centre backs — as they did for the reverse fixture in December.
‘I was told they were back to a back-five which is what they normally do when their results are not the best,’ he said.
When asked how he knew that, he replied: ‘The same way journalists have a lot of news and you don’t tell the sources.’
To pile the pressure on his former midfielder, Mourinho insisted Lampard would not change his plans despite the supposed leak.
His comments stoked the fire for a game which could be crucial in deciding who finishes in the top four.
The Blues are in pole position, one point ahead of Spurs, despite having won only one league game this year. But after he failed to recruit any players last month, Lampard insisted his side are underdogs in the race for Champions League qualification.
Mourinho dismissed that suggestion, claiming: ‘Of course Chelsea are favourites for fourth at this moment.’ He added: ‘Tottenham, Manchester United, Arsenal, Sheffield United, Wolverhampton, Everton — we are the underdogs. Chelsea has an advantage over all of us. That is obvious.’
Tottenham head to Stamford Bridge without a recognised striker. Harry Kane (hamstring) and Son Heung-min (broken arm) are not expected to play much more this season, if at all.
This week, Mourinho compared Tottenham’s plight to ‘going to fight with a gun without bullets’ and yesterday he insisted no other team in Europe faced such injury problems.
Lampard disagreed. ‘I am not sure many teams in the Premier League have had our injuries. We had huge ones at the start of the season, big ones now in the season. Major, major players for us,’ he said. ‘He has got attacking players, let’s get it right. Dele Alli, for me his best season at Tottenham was playing up with Harry Kane at times.
‘Lucas Moura scored a hat-trick in the Champions League semi-final last year and is an incredible talent on the ball.’
Lampard, meanwhile, is missing N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic, while Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi are doubts.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is in the squad for the first time this season, while Antonio Rudiger and Reece James have also struggled for fitness over recent months.
‘We all feel the same as managers. When you have big players injured, you know how much you miss them. But Tottenham also have a big squad,’ said Lampard.
‘I understand his feelings, because you want all your top players fit. But it doesn’t make me think they’re any weaker, whatever Jose says. I know we’ve got a tough team coming.’
Despite his mind games, Mourinho sought to play down the significance of his return yesterday, suggesting it was no different to visiting any other big side. He rejected suggestions he enjoys being the bad guy and winding people up.
Mourinho has faced hostile receptions on recent visits to Stamford Bridge and the Spurs boss said he expects ‘the usual’ this time round. ‘That’s football,’ he said.
‘On the street, every time I am approached by fans from all different clubs — not just the clubs where I’ve been working before — I am approached with care, respect, great feelings.’
In 2018, while in charge of Manchester United, he held up three fingers to the Chelsea crowd, signifying the number of titles he won as Chelsea boss.
‘I won three Premier Leagues. That’s nothing special,’ he said yesterday. ‘I know if I want to go (to Chelsea) I just need to pick up the phone and I will be treated the way I deserve, the way the club respects me and people like me who belong to their past.
‘I don’t have a single problem with the club, not at all.’Daily Mail