Jose Mourinho has vowed to abide by the rules when the embattled Chelsea manager serves his stadium ban at Stoke on Saturday.
The terms of Mourinho’s punishment for verbally abusing referee Jonathan Moss during a recent defeat at West Ham mean he will not be allowed to enter the Britannia Stadium, before, during or after the game and cannot communicate with staff at any point.
But Mourinho was given a similar punishment during his first spell at Chelsea when UEFA gave him a two-game touchline ban for the 2005 Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich.
During the tie at Stamford Bridge it was noted that Chelsea’s assistant coach Rui Faria was wearing a large woolly hat and was regularly scratching his ear, leading to claims Mourinho was feeding information through an earpiece.
Those allegations were followed by an unproven report that mischievous Mourinho hid in a laundry basket and used it to hide from UEFA officials before jumping out in the dressing room long enough to deliver pre-match and half-time team-talks.
Mourinho refused to confirm or deny the episode on Friday, but he did insist he isn’t planning to do something similar at Stoke.
“No. No temptation,” Mourinho said. “I travel with the team. And I will be with them until the moment somebody stops me.
“I have to get out of the bus before it reaches the stadium.
“One thing is not to be on the bench. But in this moment I’m stopped not just to do my work, I’m stopped from going to a football stadium.”
Crisis-torn Chelsea are languishing in 15th place, although Mourinho got some much-needed breathing space on Wednesday with a vital 2-1 win over Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League.
Meanwhile, Petr Cech insists shell-shocked Arsenal will make amends for their Champions League meltdown by winning this weekend’s north London derby.
Arsene Wenger’s side suffered a potentially fatal blow to their chances of making the last 16 in Europe’s elite club competition after crashing to a dismal 5-1 loss against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
The Gunners’ joint-heaviest European defeat leaves them in severe danger of missing the knockout stages for the first time in 16 years.
– Painful memories –
But veteran goalkeeper Cech knows they have a chance to erase those painful memories when they return to Premier League action against arch rivals Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
“Every game comes thick and fast and you have to make sure you recover and move onto the next one,” said Cech, whose second placed team have won their last five league matches and are behind leaders Manchester City on goal difference.
“The defeat to Bayern is tough to take but in a way you have to accept the team you played was superior to us in everything they have done.
“In terms of the league, you have to make sure you are ready for the next game.”
Fifth placed Tottenham’s hopes of avenging their League Cup loss against Arsenal earlier this season won’t be helped by their gruelling schedule over the last week.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team beat Aston Villa on Monday then hosted Anderlecht in the Europa League on Thursday, leaving them with little recovery time before facing Arsenal.
Manchester City provide daunting opposition for Aston Villa’s new manager Remi Garde when the Frenchman takes charge of the division’s bottom club for the first time on Sunday.
City secured their place in the Champions League last 16 with two games to spare thanks to an impressive 3-1 win at Sevilla in midweek.
In contrast, Villa were beaten for the ninth time in 11 league matches this season as former Lyon boss Garde watched from the stands at Tottenham on Monday ahead of the official start of his reign.
“I am confident, it’s 28 games to go. If we start winning things will change,” Garde said of Villa’s chances of avoiding a first relegation since 1987.
After ending their three-game goal drought with a 1-0 win over CSKA Moscow, fourth placed Manchester United host West Bromwich Albion.
Bournemouth v Newcastle (1245 GMT), Leicester v Watford, Manchester United v West Brom, Norwich v Swansea, Stoke v Chelsea (1730 GMT), Sunderland v Southampton, West Ham v Everton
Arsenal v Tottenham (1600 GMT), Aston Villa v Manchester City (1330 GMT), Liverpool v Crystal Palace (1600 GMT)