Defending League Cup champions and Potters both suffered defeats at the weekend
LONDON: Besieged Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is in pressing need of a change in fortune going into the League Cup fourth-round match at the Britannia Stadium against Stoke City.
Cup holders Chelsea, dealt a fifth Premier League defeat of the season at West Ham United on Saturday, visit Stoke while dealing with a crisis of almost full-blown proportions.
Chelsea’s 2-1 loss at Upton Park was a damaging affair for the league champions, with Nemanja Matic sent off and Mourinho banished to the stands alongside assistant Silvino Louro, and full-back Cesar Azpilicueta says that he and his teammates are itching to make amends.
Mourinho and Klopp seek League Cup bounce
“We want to play as soon as possible,” the Spaniard told Chelsea TV. “We have the game against Stoke. We want to get through and our mentality has to be to recover as quickly as possible.”
With Chelsea 11 points off the pace in the league and in third place in their Champions League group, the trip to Britannia offers an opportunity to sweep talk of crisis from the back pages.
But Mourinho must balance pursuit of victory with the need to avoid over-exerting his players amid a sequence of six games in 19 days that continues this Saturday with a home match against Liverpool.
English Premier League: Red and Blue of Manchester share spoils
Considering the problems plaguing The Blues at the moment, it comes as little surprise that the Potters fancy their chances. “We have a big game on Tuesday against Chelsea, and that is the perfect game for us,” said manager Mark Hughes, hoping to bounce back from his side’s shock defeat to newly promoted Watford over the weekend. “We can get back on track. We’ll be better on Tuesday.”
Arsenal up against potential banana peel
Arsene Wenger’s side had a perfect week in which they resurrected their Champions League campaign by beating Bayern Munich 2-0 and then defeated Everton 2-1 but now need to turn their attention to the League Cup.
“It is a perfect week and it is not easy to have that,” said the Arsenal manager, whose team visit second-tier Sheffield Wednesday.
However, the Frenchman admitted that he will have to rotate his players with fixtures coming thick and fast in the next couple of weeks, especially after Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey pulled up with a hamstring injury against Bayern that will keep him out of action for around six weeks.
English Premier League: Mourinho awaits fate after Upton Park dismissal
“The only negative is that we lost some players through injury during the week, but I will have to rest some players on Tuesday night against Sheffield,” he said. “I think for some players it will be one game too many.”
Meanwhile, Leicester City, fifth in the Premier League after a 1-0 win over Palace, travel to Championship side Hull City, and Everton host Norwich City.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2015.
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