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Leicester v Chelsea – Foxes hope to deepen Mourinho’s blues
The Premier League’s unlikely leaders Leicester host champions Chelsea in a Monday night match that epitomizes the utter unpredictability and topsy-turvy nature of this season’s campaign. At the same point last year Leicester were rooted at the bottom of the table and heading for relegation while Chelsea were clear at the top and had just tasted defeat for the first time in 15 games. Fast forward 12 months and the league table looks like it’s from a parallel universe with the Foxes first and two points clear while Chelsea languish in 14th place just two points off the relegation zone.
DEAD MAN WALKING
With Jamie Vardy on fire the Foxes look set to add to Jose Mourinho’s blues as Chelsea boss. The pressure on the Chelsea manager lifted somewhat midweek with a much improved display and Champions League success against Porto so even the best online football tipsters are struggling to predict the outcome of the clash against the Foxes. When Claudio Ranieri took over from Nigel Pearson as Leicester boss in the summer he was described simply as ‘a dead man walking’ such were the expectations. The former Chelsea manager had led the Greece national team through a dismal period and so the Foxes quickly became hot favourites for many for the drop.
But after 15 games featuring nine wins and just one defeat his side are league leaders and everyone’s opinion of the Italian Ranieri has changed such has been the Lazarus-like transformation of the club’s fortunes. “I think he should be made manager of the half-term, if that existed in football,” said Mourinho about the man he replaced as Chelsea manager in his first spell at the Bridge in 2004. “If you could give an award for the first six months of competition, everybody is miles away from him. And every club is miles away from what Leicester is doing. “I know the distance between them and Manchester United, City, Arsenal is two, three, four points but they are the ones that deserve all this respect and all these compliments. Fantastic work.”
How the Portuguese must wish the same was true of his own side who have stuttered and misfired all campaign and now sit 17 points and 13 places behind Monday’s opponents. Last week Mourinho’s men suffered their eighth league defeat, when newly promoted Bournemouth claimed all three points with a shock 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge, adding to further speculation about his position as boss. When asked about this, Mourinho spoke about the support and relationship he has from and with the Chelsea supporters. “The fans are being absolutely unbelievable with us,” he said. “I even feel a little bit … not knowing how to react when the people are so nice and they sing my name, you know: ‘Stand up for the Special One.’ I feel embarrassed because I don’t know how to react. When you are champions, winning matches, you wave, you share the emotion with the people.
‘THE GOALS ARE COMING’
“One thing is for sure: Chelsea fans, they don’t have memory problems. Chelsea fans, they don’t need that special vitamin to feed memory because their memory is amazing – because if not, they don’t treat me the way they do.” Commenting on the run of form that’s seen the Blues manage just four EPL wins from 15 games, the manager said: “What we are now having regularly is lots of clean sheets, very few goals conceded. We have defensive stability now. We need to score more goals. You could tell me Diego Costa and Hazard, they are not scoring goals but the way they played against Porto, they have to score goals. They have to. Sooner or later the goals are coming.”
By: Joe Cahal