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Sunday 4 December 2016

Mourinho facing special challenge

Abramovich could pull plug on boss if Blues lose to Liverpool

Mourinho
Mourinho

It would have been crazy to doubt Jose Mourinho's job security when the Premier League kicked off in August but, with 10 games gone, his position at Chelsea is under intense scrutiny ahead of tomorrow's match with Liverpool.

Just five months after they romped to the title, Chelsea and their talent-packed squad are hovering above the relegation zone, having already lost five times.

The spotlight is now firmly fixed on Mourinho whose erratic behaviour has gone hand-in-hand with his team's spiralling fortunes.

Sent to the stands in last weekend's 2-1 defeat at West Ham United, the Portuguese has spent much of the early campaign picking fights.

The club's former doctor, referees, the English Football Association, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and even some of his own players have been caught in the crossfire of Mourinho's angry outbursts.

The Chelsea boss is, of course, no stranger to controversy but his frequent run-ins with the authorities have rarely, if ever, been accompanied by such consistently poor results on the pitch.

Chelsea's midweek League Cup defeat at Stoke City on penalties means they go into tomorrow's home game on the back of two consecutive defeats.

Bookmakers now make Mourinho an even-money favourite to be the next Premier League supremo to get the sack.

SPELL

Fans are openly speculating that owner Roman Abramovich, a man who places notoriously high demands on his managers, could call time on Mourinho's second spell at Stamford Bridge if Liverpool can inflict another defeat on the champions.

Chelsea's cause will not be helped if striker Diego Costa fails to recover from the rib injury that forced him off at Stoke but Liverpool are also suffering their own injury problems.

Christian Benteke missed Wednesday's 1-0 League Cup win over Bournemouth, leaving Liverpool with Belgian Divock Origi as their only fit first-team forward.

New German coach Jurgen Klopp is also on the lookout for his first league win since joining the club three weeks ago.

Kolo Toure, meanwhile, has joined Liverpool's lengthy injury list after it was confirmed that he suffered a hamstring strain in the win over Bournemouth.

The veteran Ivorian centre-back, who was captaining the Reds in the absence of both Jordan Henderson and James Milner, was forced off before the break at Anfield after pulling up lame.

Toure will now undergo a scan to determine the extent of the damage but it's feared that he will be out for two to four weeks.

ACTION

The 34-year-old defender wouldn't have started against Chelsea anyway with Klopp set to go with Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel at the back.

However, Toure was expected to be called into action for next Thursday's Europa League trip to Russia to face Rubin Kazan.

It's a cruel setback for Toure, who was making just his third appearance of the campaign against Bournemouth.

He was also forced off against Bordeaux in the Europa League last month with a dead leg after being clattered by keeper Simon Mignolet.

Toure joins Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge, Christian Benteke, Jon Flanagan, Joe Gomez, Danny Ings and Jordan Rossiter on the list of absentees.

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