Stoke City tighten screw on Mourinho
Marko Arnautovic returned to haunt Jose Mourinho with a spectacular winner as Stoke City sank Chelsea 1-0 yesterday to plunge the Premier League champions’ manager’s future into doubt.
Mourinho dubbed Arnautovic “unmanageable” during their time at Inter Milan, but the Austria forward may have had the last laugh with an acrobatic 53rdminute volley at the Britannia Stadium.
It condemned Chelsea to a third straight league defeat, their seventh in total, and left them in 16th place in the table, heightening the risk that Mourinho, absent from the game due to a stadium ban, will be sacked.
Handed a one-game stadium ban for berating referee Jon Moss at half-time of his side’s recent defeat at West Ham United, Mourinho watched the match at a nearby hotel and with the international break due to begin, he may not be given a chance to return to the dug-out.
Chelsea’s fans, at least, continue to believe in the club’s most successful manager and showed their support by donning Mourinho masks and chanting his name.
In continuity with their midweek win over Dynamo Kiev, Chelsea produced a lively firsthalf display and went close when Diego Costa forced Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland to save with his legs.
But they fell behind eight minutes into the second half when Chelsea old boy Glen Johnson’s right-wing cross was inadvertently helped on by Jon Walters to Arnautovic, who volleyed in superbly at the far post.
Pedro Rodriguez hit the post and Eden Hazard put a shot inches wide as Chelsea pushed for a leveller, while Loic Remy hurdled Butland late on, but in trying to stay on his feet he lost balance and shot off-target. — AP
STOKE-ON-TRENT: Chelsea's French striker Loic Remy (L) tries to re-gain his balance for a shot during the English Premier League football match between Stoke City and Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, central England yesterday. — AFP
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