Thursday 22 February 2018

Jose Mourinho defends misfiring strikers as drought continues

Fernando Torres has struggled to get on the scoresheet
Fernando Torres has struggled to get on the scoresheet

Jose Mourinho praised Swansea's last line of defence as Chelsea warmed up for the crunch clash with Liverpool with a slender win which exhibited his side's familiar failings in front of goal.

Eden Hazard's seventh Barclays Premier League goal of the season earned a 1-0 win over Swansea and means he has two more than Chelsea's strikers combined - Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto'o have two apiece and Demba Ba one.

Eto'o was denied by Gerhard Tremmel either side of half-time and it was the goalkeeper who earned the praise of Mourinho, who refused to condemn his striker.

Chelsea's best chance fell to Eto'o in the opening seconds of the second half, following David Luiz's long pass and Juan Mata's control and cross, but Tremmel saved from point-blank range.

Mourinho said: "They kill me. Every game I'm tired in the end.

"At half-time we all should be relaxed with a comfortable result and we weren't and the first thing that happens in the second half was probably the biggest chance of the game.

"We didn't miss, the goalkeeper made fantastic saves. The first half save from Eto'o's shot was brilliant. The first save in the first minute of the second half is the same.

"David's pass just in front of me was good, Mata control and pass was fantastic, Eto'o attacks the ball perfectly.

"My striker made the right movement to attack the ball, he did well, the goalkeeper made a fantastic save."

Mourinho again talked up his strikers' contribution, while admitting their goal return needs to improve in the second half of the campaign for the Blues' title challenge to continue.

"If in the second period instead of five, they score 10, we have more chances (to win the title)," he added.

"They always give something to the team. Every one of them that plays.

"No goals, no winning goals. Okay, but they give what they can."

Chelsea's title credentials will face a stern test against Liverpool on Sunday and they will be without one of their most consistent performers after Ramires was booked for halting a counter-attack in the second half, picking up his fifth yellow card of the season.

"I don't want to cry, I just want to think about the solutions we have and prepare the team without him. That's life," Mourinho said.

Swansea play their second game in 48 hours on Saturday at Aston Villa with manager Michael Laudrup buoyed by the fact his side remained in contention until the end against Chelsea.

Laudrup said: "It's never good to lose a game, but once again to be in there until the last second I'm satisfied with that. Overall it's okay.

"Now that positive thing we have to bring on to the next, which now is a very important one for us, as it is for Aston Villa."

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