Remy backs Mourinho Jose Mourinho

LONDON. — Loic Remy insists beleaguered Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho remains the right man to halt the spluttering champions’ slide down the English Premier League soccer table.

Just five months after leading Chelsea to the title, Mourinho is fighting to save his job and the fixture list offers little respite for the under-fire Portuguese coach with Liverpool’s visit to Stamford Bridge today looming as another potential landmine.

With five defeats from their first 10 league matches, Chelsea find themselves languishing nine points adrift of the top four in 15th place and, to make matters worse, they slumped out of the League Cup in midweek after a penalty shoot-out loss at Stoke City.

Amid reports of a dressing room mutiny against Mourinho from players unhappy with his stern man-management, the Blues have won only one of their last seven matches and Mourinho has cut an increasingly troubled and tetchy figure. But, despite different reports surfacing that claim a number of senior players at Chelsea want Mourinho to go, French striker Remy says the boss still has the support of his squad.

“It’s important for him to stay and we don’t want to give up,” Remy said.

“We were champions together only last season and he is a really great manager. Of course I don’t want him to leave. I think all the players don’t want that.

“I’m really sure that Saturday will be a big game, but we can still be in the top four of the league if we win games.”

Remy has started just one league game this season, but he is in contention to face Liverpool after Diego Costa was taken to hospital with a rib injury sustained at Stoke.

While Mourinho’s future remains uncertain, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who famously stunned Mourinho’s Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals when he was in charge of Borussia Dortmund, is looking forward to a bright future at Anfield after securing the first win of his reign in midweek.

The 1-0 League Cup victory over Bournemouth was a first for Klopp in four matches since he took over from Brendan Rodgers and the German hopes it will be the catalyst for a significant improvement in results.

“I saw in the eyes of all the players they wanted to win. I think the players understood better how to win. They want to do what I say,” he said.

“They think about football and not pressure and I think they know why they won.” Meanwhile, Manuel Pellegrini vows Manchester City will aim for another goal glut as the most prolific side in the Premier League set their sights on struggling Norwich City.

Pellegrini’s table-toppers suffered a rare blank last Sunday when they ground out a 0-0 draw at Manchester United.

That was the first time City had failed to score this season and, despite picking up a useful point away to one of their title rivals, their conservative tactics drew criticism from some quarters.

However, City manager Pellegrini has made it clear he doesn’t expect a repeat against Norwich after normal service was resumed in midweek when a 5-1 win over Crystal Palace took City into the League Cup quarter-finals.

“It is the way we normally play. Maybe it was an accident on Sunday that especially in the second half we couldn’t create chances,” Pellegrini said.

“But it is not our style, so it was very important for the team to return to score goals.” Second-placed Arsenal will bid to erase the painful memory of their embarrassing League Cup exit against Sheffield Wednesday when they return to Premier League action at Swansea City.

Wenger’s side head to south Wales still smarting from a dismal 3-0 League Cup exit at the hands of second-tier Wednesday in midweek.

And adding to Wenger’s woes, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott both sustained injuries that rule them out this weekend.

Manchester United also suffered a shock League Cup defeat, losing to second-tier Middlesbrough on penalties after a lacklustre performance that added to the pressure on out-of-form striker Wayne Rooney ahead of this weekend’s trip to Crystal Palace.

Aston Villa, bottom of the table and managerless after Tim Sherwood’s sacking, visit Tottenham Hotspur on Monday.

Meanwhile, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has defended the club’s medical staff after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott were injured in midweek.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was substituted after just five minutes of the 3-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup with a hamstring problem, while Walcott came off at Hillsborough with a calf injury.

Dutch fitness coach Raymond Verheijen has criticised the number of injuries the Gunners have accrued, but Wenger insists he is not unduly concerned by the club’s injury situation.

He also confirmed Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected to return to action ahead of his Arsenal and England team-mate Walcott, although both are set to be on the sidelines until after the next international break in mid-November.

“I trust my medical and coaching staff to do well. We are very well organised on that front,” Wenger said ahead of today’s Premier League trip to Swansea.

“I still believe the quickest back will be Alex. Theo might be out of action longer. The gut feeling will be one will be 20 days and one will be a bit longer.

“We always have to answer the question of whether it is more than being unlucky when we have injuries, but we analyse every single case and every exercise. We have to not over-analyse when players are injured – this has always happened. It’s post-international games we always get injuries. Is it linked with that? I don’t know.

“We have two kinds of injuries, the ones coming back for or after Christmas; (Tomas) Rosicky, (Jack) Wilshere and (Danny) Welbeck. Then we have the short-term; (Mikel) Arteta, [Aaron] Ramsey, Chamberlain should be back after the international break.”

Costa Rica international Joel Campbell could be called into the starting line-up for Saturday’s trip to the Liberty Stadium, where he would make his first Premier League appearance of the season.

“My short-term option is Campbell or one more defensive midfielder like [Mathieu] Flamini, and put [Santi] Cazorla out on the flank. I have to 24 hours to make a decision on that,” added Wenger. As for the game with Swansea, Wenger insists the cup defeat to Sky Bet Championship side Wednesday will have no bearing on the match in south Wales.


Today (all 5pm unless stated): Chelsea v Liverpool (2:45pm), Crystal Palace v Manchester United, Manchester City v Norwich, Newcastle v Stoke, Swansea v Arsenal, Watford v West Ham, West Brom v Leicester

Tomorrow: Everton v Sunderland (3:30pm), Southampton v Bournemouth (6pm)

Monday: Tottenham v Aston Villa (10pm) — AFP.

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