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Mourinho starts Chelsea mend job

MOURINHO-NICOSIALONDON, April 3 – Jose Mourinho will attempt to revive Chelsea’s campaign after a disastrous week that has damaged their ambitions in both the Champions League and the Premier League.

The Blues find themselves in the unfamiliar position of trying to avoid a third successive defeat when Stoke visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Seven days previously, Mourinho’s side unexpectedly lost at Crystal Palace, a result that prompted the Blues manager to write off Chelsea’s hopes of beating Liverpool and Manchester City to the Premier League title.

And that shock defeat, which saw Chelsea drop to second in the Premier League – two points behind Liverpool, was followed by a painful 3-1 reverse at Paris Saint Germain in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final.

Victory over Stoke would provide a much needed confidence boost, particularly as PSG visit west London next week for the decisive return leg.

But Mourinho knows Chelsea can’t take anything for granted against Mark Hughes’ side, having lost at the Britannia Stadium in December.

And should Stoke manage to pull off the double over Chelsea, they will bring to an end Mourinho’s unbeaten Premier League home record.

Mourinho bemoaned his lack of forward strength immediately after the PSG game when he started with makeshift striker Andre Schurrle up front, leaving Fernando Torres and Demba Ba on the bench.

Samuel Eto’o is hoping to be fit for the visit of Stoke after missing the two recent defeats with a hamstring problem and should the Cameroon striker recover, he will almost certainly step back in to lead the line.

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Despite Mourinho’s pessimism, Chelsea remain in the title hunt.

That ensures their focus will remain on Stoke and two Blues stars hope Chelsea can lift spirits ahead of the PSG meeting.

Blues centre-back Gary Cahill said: “We’ve been here before, against Napoli in the year we won it. We’ve got the character and the players to do it.

“We’ve got a big task ahead of us and we need to approach it in the right manner.”

And Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard added: “We only have one thing to do — attack and score. Paris are a great team but Chelsea can turn things around at home.

“We have already proved that and we are capable of doing it again.”

Meanwhile, Stoke boss Mark Hughes has revealed the key to taming bad boys Marko Arnautovic and Peter Odemwingie.

The duo, both of whom arrived with troubled reputations, have starred for the Potters during a three-match winning streak which sees them head to Stamford Bridge in confident mood.

“Different players will have different experiences at different clubs,” Hughes said.

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“You try and do as much homework as you can on them. But first and foremost the best thing to do is to sit in front of people and get an indication from them what they want to do.

“Marko’s a very good trainer. The key thing for Marko is that he’s got to grips with the Premier League.

“Peter’s come in and made an immediate impact. We shouldn’t be surprised by that because he’s a player who understands the Premier League and scores goals in it.”

Fixtures (1400 GMT unless otherwise stated)


Aston Villa v Fulham, Cardiff City v Crystal Palace, Chelsea v Stoke City (1630 GMT), Hull City v Swansea City, Manchester City v Southampton (1145 GMT), Newcastle United v Manchester United, Norwich City v West Bromwich Albion


Everton v Arsenal (1230 GMT), West Ham United v Liverpool (1500 GMT)


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Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland (1900 GMT)

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