Mourinho stays cool after Chelsea crash at Stoke

AFP, Sunday 8 Dec 2013

Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho awaits the start of their English Premier League soccer match against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, England, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 (Photo: AP)

Jose Mourinho refused to press the panic button after Chelsea slipped to a shock 3-2 defeat against Stoke.

Mourinho's men wasted a chance to keep the pressure on Premier League leaders Arsenal as Oussama Assaidi's last-gasp goal condemned the Blues to a frustrating loss at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

With Arsenal in action at home to Everton on Sunday, Chelsea could be seven points off top spot by the time they return to domestic action against Crystal Palace next weekend.

But Blues boss Mourinho could point to Manchester United's defeat against Newcastle and Manchester City's draw at Southampton as proof that Chelsea aren't the only ones in erratic form at present.

And Mourinho insists Chelsea's third league defeat of the season won't have serious consequences for their hopes of winning the title because most of their main challengers are also struggling.

"I think we are doing well," he said. "To be there, where we are, you see us in relation to Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool and we are not doing bad, even in term of points in the league."

Mourinho maintained his relaxed approach at the end of a week that saw Chelsea concede six goals in two matches.

While his players wasted a chance to close the gap on Arsenal, Mourinho still gave the squad a rare day off afterwards in the knowledge that their December schedule will be hugely demanding.

Chelsea host Steaua Bucharest on Wednesday in their final Champions League group fixture with qualification for the last 16 already secured.

A win would ensure Chelsea finish first in their group, but Mourinho seems more focused on his side's forthcoming tests in the Premier League.

A trip to Arsenal on December 23 will go some way to deciding how the title race will run in the second half of the season, while the visit of Liverpool on December 29 is one of four games in 10 games over the holiday period.

"I don't like to give a day off after a game and before a Champions League game but I think it's good for their heads," Mourinho added.

"I like to do recovery from the physiological point of view but I think the mental point of view is more important.

"They have a free Sunday to disconnect because I think it's important for them. We have to give everything to try and fight for the points."

Mourinho has clearly mellowed in his time away from England and kept his composure when questioned about his team's tendency to concede goals in bunches -- something that wasn't a Chelsea trait in his first spell at the west London club.

His first title-winning season in 2004-05 saw Chelsea concede only 15 goals during the whole campaign; the three that Stoke, managed by former Chelsea striker Mark Hughes, put past Petr Cech took this season's tally to 17 already.

But Mourinho insisted: "It is not fair to compare different generations from different periods.

"We are not a physical team, we are not a team who can defend against physical teams. We need to score goals."

Asked about the lack of goals from forwards Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto'o, he added with a shrug and hint of a smile: "How are we going to get the strikers to score? I don't know."

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