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Mourinho under fire ahead of Arsenal crunch

WALCOTT-CHELSEALONDON, December 20- 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 term, leaving Mourinho under pressure to resolve the issue by making a signing in the January transfer market.

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 on Monday.

While a win for second placed Liverpool over Cardiff at Anfield on Saturday 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 and he said: “Missing goals. It’s always the same words. It’s unbelievable.

“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.

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“In every match we lost in England, in the Premier League and in the cup at Sunderland, we were the best team by far.

“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 on Monday 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 in his knee just before half-time 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, doesn’t 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.”

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

Tim Sherwood took charge on a caretaker basis for the midweek League Cup loss to West Ham and his first move was to bring back Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who had been dropped by Villas-Boas.

Adebayor responded with a brilliant strike against the Hammers and he said: “I was hanging in there waiting for my chance. Tim gave me the chance to play football again.

“I’ve still got my smile on my face. I got a chance, I took it well.

“We just have to keep working hard, put more heart into it and it will be better.”

Manchester United, languishing 10 points behind the leaders, host West Ham looking to build on their back to back away wins at Aston Villa last weekend and then Stoke in the League Cup on Wednesday.


Saturday (1500GMT unless stated)

Crystal Palace v Newcastle, Fulham v Manchester City, Liverpool v Cardiff (1245GMT), Manchester United v West Ham, Stoke v Aston Villa, Sunderland v Norwich, West Brom v Hull

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Southampton v Tottenham (1330GMT), Swansea v Everton (1600GMT)


Arsenal v Chelsea (2000GMT)

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