Mourinho and Klopp seek League Cup bounce

Besieged Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and his Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp are both in pressing need of a change of fortune going into this week’s League Cup fourth-round matches.

Cup holders Chelsea, dealt a fifth Premier League defeat of the season at West Ham United on Saturday, visit Stoke City on Tuesday, while Liverpool, who have drawn all three games since Klopp’s appointment, host Bournemouth the following evening.

Chelsea’s 2-1 loss at Upton Park was a damaging affair for the league champions, with Nemanja Matic sent off and Mourinho banished to the stands alongside assistant Silvino Louro, and full-back Cesar Azpilicueta says that he and his teammates are itching to make amends.

“We want to play as soon as possible,” the Spaniard told Chelsea TV. “We have the game against Stoke.

“We want to get through and our mentality has to be to recover as quick as possible and to get into the next round on Tuesday.”

With Chelsea 11 points off the pace in the league and in third place in their Champions League group, the trip to the Britannia Stadium offers an opportunity to sweep talk of crisis from the back pages.

But Mourinho must balance pursuit of victory with the need to avoid over-exerting his players amid a sequence of six games in 19 days that continues on Saturday with a home match against Liverpool.

Klopp was appointed to great fanfare as the successor to Brendan Rodgers, but Sunday’s 1-1 home draw with Southampton was Liverpool’s third successive stalemate since his arrival.

The German will hope that the tide turns at Anfield on Wednesday and will draw encouragement from the fact that opponents Bournemouth have shipped 10 goals in their last two outings, courtesy of back-to-back 5-1 beatings at the hands of Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.

– Life after Sherwood –

“We can work with this result,” Klopp said after the Southampton game. “We can work with this performance of the team.

“If I sit here and have to say, ‘These guys are not ready for fighting,’ or what not, then it would be bad news. But everybody saw how ready they are and that’s the most important thing.”

Following a dreary goalless stalemate in Sunday’s Manchester derby at Old Trafford, Manchester City and Manchester United continue their League Cup campaigns on Wednesday.

United entertain second-tier Middlesbrough, while City welcome Crystal Palace to the Etihad Stadium.

Antonio Valencia is a doubt for United after manager Louis van Gaal revealed that the right-sided Ecuadorian player sustained a foot injury against City, which saw him replaced by Matteo Darmian late in the game.

The point earned at Old Trafford took City back to the top of the table above Arsenal, but Arsene Wenger’s side otherwise had little to complain about following a week in which they resurrected their Champions League campaign by beating Bayern Munich 2-0 and then defeated Everton 2-1.

“It is a perfect week and it is not easy to have that,” said the Arsenal manager, whose team visit second-tier Sheffield Wednesday.

“The only negative is that we lost some players through injury during the week, but I will have to rest some players Tuesday night against Sheffield. I think for some players it will be one game too many for them.”

Aston Villa will begin life without Tim Sherwood, sacked as manager on Sunday, with a trip to Southampton, where Under-21 coach Kevin MacDonald will be in temporary charge of the visitors.

Leicester City, fifth in the Premier League after a 1-0 win over Palace, travel to Championship side Hull City, while Everton host Norwich City in one of the five all-top-flight ties.

Fixtures (1945 GMT unless otherwise stated)


Everton v Norwich City, Hull City v Leicester City, Sheffield Wednesday v Arsenal, Stoke City v Chelsea


Liverpool v Bournemouth, Manchester City v Crystal Palace, Manchester United v Middlesbrough (2000 GMT), Southampton v Aston Villa

Photo Credits : AFP

Dortmund’s Klopp ignores Premier League talk

Borussia Dortmund’s want-away coach Jurgen Klopp is refusing to listen to any talk of his future in the English Premier League and concentrating instead on his last few matches.

Having won the 2011 and 2012 Bundesliga titles, then finishing runners-up to Bayern in the last two seasons, Klopp dropped a bombshell on Wednesday by revealing he would quit Dortmund at the end of the season after seven years.

Ex-Mainz boss Thomas Tuchel is tipped to take over at Borussia for next season while Klopp has been linked to several Premier League sides including Manchester City and Arsenal.

The Gunners’ ex-Germany defender Per Mertesacker has said Klopp would do well in the Premier League, while ex-England internationals Paul Scholes and Gary Lineker have said they want to see Klopp coach in England.

The 47-year-old wants to bow out by lifting one last trophy with Dortmund still in the hunt for the German Cup where they face holders Bayern Munich away in the semi-finals on April 28.

Second-half goals by Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Shinji Kagawa sealed Dortmund’s 3-0 league win over relegation-threatened Paderborn on Saturday which left them eighth and just outside the Europa League places.

But after his first match since his announcement, Klopp insists he has given no thought to his future.

“I have had no time to think about it and at the moment, it’s really not important,” Klopp told Sky Sports.

“I want to finish things here first.

“Everything is possible.

“It could be that nothing happens and we take a year off.

“We’ll go as a three-man coaching complete coaching team (along with assistants Zeljko Buvac and Peter Krawietz), but right now, no-one knows what will happen in the next year.”

With his quick-wit and designer stubble, the charismatic Klopp has earned cult status at Dortmund.

He received a standing ovation late in the Paderborn game at Dortmund’s sold-out 80,667-capacity stadium, but he insists there is no time for sentimentality in the hunt for a Europa League berth.

“I think it’s really good that people here have focused on the football,” he said.

“It was all about the team playing well in a great atmosphere, it was nice (to get the standing ovation), but as a person, I can’t go through that every week.

“It will be a really emotional time during the next few weeks, but until then I will have to wear my armour, so to speak, because this is all about football.

“When things like that happen, I can’t allow myself to pay too much attention, instead I have to try and ignore it.”

Photo Credits : AFP