Sat, Dec 21, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Mourinho feels the heat ahead of crucial match

AFP, LONDON

Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko, right, scores past Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel in their English League Cup quarter-final at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, England, on Tuesday.

Photo: Reuters

Jose Mourinho admits he is starting to feel the strain of Chelsea’s inconsistent form as his side head to Arsenal for a crucial clash against the Premier League leaders.

Mourinho is growing increasingly vexed by the misfiring form of Chelsea’s strikers and the Blues boss has so far been unable to find a solution to a problem that threatens to wreck the team’s challenge for the title.

Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba have scored just five league goals between them this season, leaving Mourinho under pressure to resolve the issue by making a signing in next month’s transfer window.

A host of players, including Zenit Saint Petersburg striker Hulk and Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa have been linked with Chelsea, but Mourinho must make do and mend until then, starting with the most significant match of the season to date at the Emirates Stadium in London on Monday.

While a win for second-placed Liverpool over Cardiff City at Anfield today would knock Arsenal off the top, the result of the London derby between the Gunners and Chelsea will been seen as an indication of which club is more likely to last the pace in the title race.

A win for Arsenal would take them five points clear of third-placed Chelsea, who have already lost seven times in all competitions this season, and deepen the sense of gloom at Stamford Bridge following their surprise League Cup quarter-final defeat at struggling Sunderland in midweek.

In the circumstances, Mourinho could do with his strikers finally finding their shooting boots.

“Missing goals. It’s always the same words. It’s unbelievable,” Mourinho said. “Even on the bench, I feel every time we miss a chance and the score is 0-0, 1-0, 2-1, 1-1, I feel the pressure. I feel that missing the chances, maybe later you are punished. We have this problem.”

“In every match we lost in England, in the Premier League and in the Cup at Sunderland, we were the best team by far,” he said. “We create, we enjoy the ball, we were always very comfortable on the pitch, we had unbelievable chances to score to kill the game. We don’t do it.”

Arsenal will be without England midfielder Jack Wilshere after he was handed a two-game suspension for making an offensive gesture at Manchester City fans during last weekend’s 6-3 thrashing.

That humbling result raised questions about Arsenal’s ability to maintain their title challenge and the likely absence of French defender Laurent Koscielny, who suffered a deep gash to his knee just before halftime at Eastlands, is a further blow for Arsene Wenger’s side.

Manchester City, currently three points behind Arsenal in fourth place, travel to second-bottom Fulham hoping to transfer their free-scoring home form to a vital away game.

Manuel Pellegrini’s team have hit 35 goals in eight home league games, but have won just two of their eight matches away from Manchester.

Sergio Aguero’s calf injury, which will keep the Argentine forward out for up to eight weeks, does not help City’s cause, but Bosnian forward Edin Dzeko is confident he can fill the gap.

“Sergio has had an amazing season, scoring a lot of goals, and he is an important player for us,” Dzeko said. “I am a striker that has scored goals all my life and I love to do it. When I get a chance, I try to do my best.”

Seventh-placed Tottenham Hotspur visit Southampton for their first league match since Andre Villas-Boas’ sacking on Monday.

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