Under-fire Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and his Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp are both in pressing need of a change of fortune going into this week’s League Cup fourth-round matches.
Cup holders Chelsea, dealt a fifth Premier League defeat of the season at West Ham United on Saturday, visit Stoke City on Tuesday, while Liverpool, who have drawn all three games since Klopp’s appointment, host Bournemouth the following evening.
Chelsea’s 1-2 loss at Upton Park was a damaging affair for the league champions, with Nemanja Matic sent off and Mourinho banished to the stands alongside assistant Silvino Louro, and full-back Cesar Azpilicueta says that he and his team-mates are itching to make amends. “We want to play as soon as possible,” the Spaniard told Chelsea TV. “We have the game against Stoke.
“We want to get through and our mentality has to be to recover as quick as possible and to get into the next round on Tuesday.”
With Chelsea 11 points off the pace in the league and in third place in their Champions League group, the trip to the Britannia Stadium offers an opportunity to sweep talk of crisis from the back pages. But Mourinho must balance pursuit of victory with the need to avoid over-exerting his players amid a sequence of six games in 19 days that continues this Saturday with a home match against Liverpool.
Klopp was appointed to great fanfare as the successor to Brendan Rodgers, but Sunday’s 1-1 home draw with Southampton was Liverpool’s third successive stalemate since his arrival. The German will hope that the tide turns at Anfield on Wednesday and will draw encouragement from the fact that opponents Bournemouth have conceded 10 goals in their last two outings, courtesy of back-to-back 1-5 beatings at the hands of Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
“We can work with this result,” Klopp said after the Southampton game. “We can work with this performance of the team.
“If I sit here and have to say, ‘These guys are not ready for fighting,’ or what not, then it would be bad news. But everybody saw how ready they are and that’s the most important thing.”
Following a dreary goalless stalemate in Sunday’s Manchester derby at Old Trafford, Manchester City and Manchester United continue their League Cup campaigns on Wednesday. United entertain second-tier Middlesbrough, while City welcome Crystal Palace to the Etihad Stadium.
Antonio Valencia is a doubt for United after manager Louis van Gaal revealed that the right-sided Ecuadorian player sustained a foot injury against City, which saw him replaced by Matteo Darmian late in the game.
The point earned at Old Trafford took City back to the top of the table above Arsenal, but Arsene Wenger’s side otherwise had little to complain about following a week in which they resurrected their Champions League campaign by beating Bayern Munich 2-0 and then defeated Everton 2-1.
“It is a perfect week and it is not easy to have that,” said the Arsenal manager, whose team visit second-tier side Sheffield Wednesday. “The only negative is that we lost some players through injury during the week, but I will have to rest some players Tuesday night against Sheffield. I think for some players it will be one game too many for them.”
Aston Villa will begin life without Tim Sherwood, sacked as manager on Sunday, with a trip to Southampton, where Under-21 coach Kevin MacDonald will be in temporary charge of the visitors.
Leicester City, fifth in the Premier League after a 1-0 win over Palace, travel to Championship side Hull City, while Everton host Norwich City in one of the five all-top-flight ties.