Chelsea’s Mourinho expects tougher battle for title
Jose Mourinho says Chelsea will have to survive a much sterner examination than last season if the champions are to mount a successful defense of the Premier League title.
Mourinho’s side begin the new campaign against Swansea on Saturday as the bookmakers’ favorites to retain the title they won at a canter, but the Blues boss is convinced the challenge from their rivals will be much stronger this time.
The west Londoners finished eight points clear of second placed Manchester City and rarely looked like surrendering the lead in a title race they led for virtually the entire season.
But Chelsea have spluttered in pre-season and could be without last season’s top scorer Diego Costa at Stamford Bridge this weekend due to his recurring hamstring injury.
Those teething troubles, combined with the big spending of Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool — as well as Arsenal’s impressive resurgence, have convinced Mourinho that Chelsea will be under severe pressure right from the start this year.
“It depends not just about you, it’s also about the others,” he said just hours before signing a new four-year contract on Friday.
“You can have a good season and somebody was better than you, a little bit better, a couple of points more than you, then I don’t think it’s a failure.
“I just think credit to the others. Let’s try to be a good team and let’s try to be here in March, April speaking to you about the possibility of winning something.”
Manchester United open the topflight season in Saturday’s early fixture at home to Tottenham.
Arsenal, bolstered by the arrival from Chelsea of goalkeeper Petr Cech, begin their season with a home fixture against London rivals West Ham United, who now have their former defender Slaven Bilic at the helm.