English Premiership

Chelsea look to flex muscles

2014-03-28 09:03
Jose Mourinho (AFP)

London - Having decided to contest a Football Association charge of improper conduct, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho turns his attention back to preserving his side's lead in the Premier League this weekend.

Mourinho's side sit one point clear of Liverpool, but the Portuguese believes third-place Manchester City - who lie three points behind Chelsea with two games in hand - remain the favourites to win the title.

Chelsea's emphatic 6-0 victory over Arsenal last weekend strengthened the Blues' credentials to be champions, as well as dealing a severe blow to Arsene Wenger's side's hopes.

But that memorable victory will count for little if Mourinho's team fail to follow up the win with three more points at relegation-threatened Crystal Palace on Saturday.

With City due to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium an hour after the final whistle has gone at Selhurst Park, Chelsea know that success against Palace will increase the pressure on Manuel Pellegrini's side.

The fixture list appears to favour Chelsea, with Mourinho's men due to face Stoke City, Sunderland and Swansea City before a potentially decisive trip to Anfield to face Liverpool on April 27.

But the recent 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa - during which Mourinho was sent to the stands, for which he received his FA charge - confirmed that the leading teams can take nothing for granted.

And Andre Schurrle, the Chelsea attacking midfielder, has warned against complacency if Chelsea are to maintain their challenge.

"When you want to be champions you have to win every match; not only against the top teams," said the Germany international.

"Of course playing Liverpool away is very difficult, but we can do it so we have to keep focused. Next is Crystal Palace away, so another London derby we have to win and that is what we think about.

"If Man City win every match they are champions, but we can win every match and we want to win every match and if we do this we have a good chance. We have to focus on each game and we will see how we stand at the end."

Samuel Eto'o will miss the trip to Palace after picking up a hamstring injury in the opening 10 minutes of the Arsenal game, shortly after the Cameroon star had scored his 11th goal of the season.

However, the forward is hopeful that he will be fit to face Paris Saint-Germain next week in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.

"I always dreamt of playing at Parc des Princes," he said. "Unfortunately, my injury may not allow me to be there. Can I get fit enough? Time will tell. I can't say anything, but I will work to be there."

Willian returns after a one-game ban, but fellow Brazilian midfielder Ramires is still suspended.

Palace coach Tony Pulis has experienced the charm offensive from Mourinho, but now he wants to see the Chelsea manager in a bad mood.

Pulis was captivated by Mourinho's charisma after their first meeting this season, when Palace lost 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in December, but he does not want to see the former Real Madrid manager smiling on Saturday.

"The time I had with him was charming, but they had just beaten us," Pulis said.

"It would be nice to see on Saturday if he's charming. I met him after the game at Stamford Bridge and he's interesting. Whether you like him or dislike him for what he is, there is no doubting he is a top manager."

Without a win in five games, Pulis's side are just three points above the relegation zone - having played a game more than third-bottom Sunderland - and have scored just once during that run.

"It's playing under a little more pressure now," Pulis added.

"The players have found that and expectations have risen. They will have to handle that and I know they will have to come through."

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Fixtures
13 September 2014
Arsenal v Manchester City, Emirates Stadium 13:45
Stoke City v Leicester City, Britannia Stadium 16:00
Crystal Palace v Burnley, Selhurst Park 16:00
Southampton v Newcastle United, St. Mary's Stadium 16:00
Sunderland v Tottenham Hotspur, Stadium of Light 16:00
Chelsea v Swansea City, Stamford Bridge 16:00
West Bromwich Albion v Everton, The Hawthorns 16:00
Liverpool v Aston Villa, Anfield 18:30
14 September 2014
Manchester United v Queens Park Rangers, Old Trafford 17:00
15 September 2014
Hull City v West Ham United, The KC Stadium 21:00
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