Jose Mourinho had admitted that he cannot promise that Chelsea will qualify for the Champions League this season, but again backed his team to recover from their current predicament. Chelsea will host Liverpool on Saturday sitting 15th in the Premier League after losing five of their first 10 matches.
Failure to beat Jurgen Klopp’s side at Stamford Bridge would mean Chelsea posting the worst record through 11 matches of any defending Premier League champions. Already they are nine points off a Champions League place, and Mourinho has admitted that he "can’t promise" that Chelsea will recover to continue a run of 12 consecutive seasons in Europe’s top competition.
“Well, I think Chelsea is a big club. [It's] the club that I choose to come [to]," Mourinho said at his pre-match press conference.
"But with all the respect, Liverpool is a big club, Man United is a super-big club and last season Liverpool won nothing and didn't qualify for the Champions League, and they are still a big club. And two years ago, Man United didn't qualify for the Champions League -- not even to Europa League. [They didn't] win nothing, and they are still a monster club.
"And that's football."
Mourinho said he had "no doubts we will get out of this" predicament. But he refused to comment on whether he had been given any assurances about his own future, with reports suggesting that he could be dismissed if Chelsea fall to another defeat on Saturday. Chelsea went down 2-1 to West Ham last weekend, in a match that saw Nemanja Matic sent off and Mourinho sent from the touchline. On Tuesday Mourinho’s predicament took a further turn for the worse when Chelsea were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Stoke City on a penalty shootout.
Mourinho’s Liverpool counterpart enjoyed a much happier time in midweek. After three successive draws since taking charge at Anfield earlier this month, the former Borussia Dortmund coach tasted his first victory when his side beat Bournemouth 1-0 to make the Capital One Cup quarterfinals. And there is more good news, with striker Christian Benteke ready to start at Stamford Bridge after sitting out Wednesday night’s encounter with a knee problem.
Still, Klopp insists that he won’t be taking the challenge of Chelsea lightly, especially after his own troubled season while in charge of Dortmund last term.
“I’m experienced in this! Things like this can happen,” he said, according to Liverpool’s official website. "I’m not close enough to Chelsea to know the reasons and I’m not a journalist -- I don’t have to think all day about why things are like they are.
“I’m interested, of course, in the football Chelsea played in the last few weeks and it was not as bad as the results maybe show us. We have to do our analysis and we feel we are prepared for the game, but we have to respect the quality of Chelsea. Let’s try everything and play well, and if it’s possible, take the points.”
Klopp will continue to be without Daniel Sturridge, Danny Ings, Jordan Henderson and Joe Gomez, while Kolo Toure has joined the list of absentees after being forced off against Bournemouth with a hamstring injury.
Chelsea will give late fitness tests to Diego Costa and Pedro, with Mourinho describing himself as “a little hopeful,” that the pair would be able to take the field. Thibaut Courtois and Branislav Ivanovic are again ruled out.
Kickoff time: 8:45 a.m. EDT
TV channel: NBCSN
Live stream: NBC Sports Live Extra