Stoke on Mourinho's mind after drama of transfers

With Spanish playmaker Juan Mata departing to United, the Chelsea manager puts his focus back on the pitch for FA Cup fourth-round clash

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 January, 2014, 12:32am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 January, 2014, 12:32am


Jose Mourinho's focus will switch back from the transfer market to Chelsea's bid for silverware when Stoke visit Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday.

Events at the west London club have been dominated by a dramatic week of transfer negotiations following their Premier League victory over Manchester United last weekend.

Mourinho's decision to sanction the £37 million (HK$474 million) sale of Spanish playmaker Juan Mata to United raised eyebrows, particularly from those Chelsea supporters disappointed to see the exit of the club's player of the year for the last two seasons.

The Portuguese coach, though, insists the sale was triggered by a successful approach for Basel's Egypt winger Mohamed Salah, who had appeared destined to join Liverpool before the Blues' intervention.

Everybody knows who Stoke are: very physical, very direct, strong on set pieces
Jose Mourinho

Mourinho had claimed he did not expect Chelsea to be active in the January transfer market, but with Nemanja Matic having returned to the club in a £21 million move from Benfica, the former Real Madrid manager's efforts to reshape his squad have progressed further than even he thought possible.

Those transfers should be completed imminently, but both will be put to one side when Mourinho's team face a Stoke side who won 3-2 when the two sides met at the Britannia Stadium in the Premier League in December. Then, Chelsea paid the price for building on a promising first half performance and Mourinho warned his team face a testing challenge against Mark Hughes' side despite Stoke's record of just one win in their last six games.

"We lost against this team and it was not a long time ago. They are a difficult team," Mourinho said.

"Everybody knows who Stoke are: very physical, very direct, strong on set pieces, they come here to compete. I expect a very difficult match.

"That's why I'm going to play with a strong team. I'm not going to make big changes in the team, because we're going to try to go as far as possible in the competition. We have to play with a very strong team."

Fernando Torres is Chelsea's only absentee after the Spanish striker picked up a knee injury against United.

"He's the only one injured. He'll be out for one month, three weeks, something like that," Mourinho said.

"It's not a surgery situation, gladly. But it's not a little strain. It's a lateral ligament injury and it'll take, with this week, three weeks."

Stoke manager Hughes insists there is no chance of him letting Peter Crouch leave in this window despite reported interest from QPR.

Hughes has brought in Manchester City forward John Guidetti on loan and is keen to add further to his striking options in the window, yet when queried if he would consider letting Crouch go, he replied: "No, it is not an option."