London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has urged his Chelsea side to set one more landmark before they receive the Premier League trophy following their final game of the season against Sunderland on Sunday.
There will be a party atmosphere at Stamford Bridge as the home crowd hail Mourinho and his players at the end of a triumphant campaign which saw the Blues crowned English champions for the first time since 2010.
In addition, Mourinho was this week named manager of the year, while Belgium playmaker Eden Hazard won the football writers’ player of the year having already been handed a similar honour by his fellow players.
Almost forgotten in the march to the title, Chelsea also lifted the League Cup, secured with victory over Tottenham in the Wembley final back in March.
And should they avoid defeat against a Sunderland side who secured their place in the top-flight status with a midweek draw at Arsenal, they will complete the season having lost just four games in all competitions, the lowest total since the inception of the Premier League in 1992 and beating Manchester United’s mark of five in 1999.
Mourinho insists he is unconcerned about the trappings of success, although he admits he will keep his title winners silverware this year after throwing his medal into the crowd after his second championship triumph with the club in 2006.
“The trophy, the silver piece, means less than the feeling. The reality is that the real feeling for me personally is when you do it,” Mourinho said.
“I will keep it this time; my son is collecting all my stuff and keeps everything. He steals everything from me, shirts, medals, cups.
“The motivation for us is to be champions and for Sunderland not to be relegated.
“We’ve celebrated already, they’ve celebrated these last fantastic weeks which they’ve had with good results. There is a last match, obviously we want to win and so do they, that’s normal.”
– Ring the changes –
Hazard is expected to be sidelined after having three wisdom teeth removed this week, while Kurt Zouma, Oscar and Ramires are also out and Cesc Fabregas is suspended.
Sunderland head coach Dick Advocaat is set to ring the changes after his side capped their impressive revival under his leadership by guaranteeing another top-flight season.
Swedish midfielder Seb Larsson suffered a knee problem in the Emirates Stadium stalemate, and is set to miss out, along with Lee Cattermole, who is likely to be rested as he would trigger a three-game suspension at the start of next season were he to earn a 15th yellow card of the campaign on Sunday.
Youngsters Duncan Watmore, who was this week called up to England’s Under-20 squad, Tommy Robson and Liam Agnew are all set to be involved in the squad.
Advocaat’s future remains undecided, after Sunderland indicated to the Dutchman they were keen for him to stay on after he guided them to safety in the penultimate game of his temporary nine-match stint in charge.
After clinching a ninth consecutive season in the top-flight, the Wearside club want the 67-year-old to remain in charge long-term.
Advocaat has so-far refused to be drawn on the situation until after the visit to Stamford Bridge, where his side hope to increase their four-point advantage on the relegation zone by posting a six-game unbeaten run to end the campaign.
The former Netherlands and Glasgow Rangers head coach has already earned cult status during his two months at the Stadium of Light, and he said: “My future is something I will make a decision on soon after the end of the season.”