Chelsea’s Mour­inho ex­pects tougher bat­tle for ti­tle

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY STEVEN GRIF­FITHS

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.

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