Jose Mourinho has been speaking about the importance of Boxing Day in the football calendar ahead of this afternoon’s game against Swansea City.
The Blues welcome the Welsh outfit to Stamford Bridge for the first of two successive home games, with Liverpool making the trip south on Sunday.
Mourinho takes charge of his first Boxing Day fixture since overseeing a 2-2 draw with Reading in 2006, and he believes the supporters can play their part in helping us preserve our unbeaten home record in the league.
‘We have two difficult matches but two consecutive games at home, and I think in these fixtures the supporters whose team play at home have a privilege, so they have to enjoy it,’ he said.
‘We play at home, our fans are there and I think they will really support the team. We have some older players that deserve all the respect for the big effort they give, but we also have younger players, some of whom are in England for the first time, like Schurrle and Willian, and they need to be pushed and to feel how special Boxing Day is.
‘It’s a special day in football, especially for the team playing at home, and after that comes Liverpool, who are the leaders now and, who knows, could still be the leaders on that day, so it’s hard, difficult but hopefully enjoyable.’
With so little to choose between the top five or six teams in the Barclays Premier League, there is little room for error, and Mourinho feels the younger players in his squad can only benefit long term from playing in such a pressurised environment.
‘I was telling the players that they have to learn how to cope with this situation,’ he said. ‘For me it’s not a problem, for some guys it’s not a problem but they have to learn how to express themselves on the pitch in this situation.
‘When you are 20 points behind the leaders and you play one game at home and win 6-0, what does that mean? It means nothing. What matters is when you are fighting for the title, you play a fantastic match and score the winning goal, that’s how young players grow up quickly.
‘I think I’m the right guy to teach them how to cope with this situation because it’s a situation I enjoy.’
Monday’s 0-0 draw at Arsenal will be remembered for our defensive solidity throughout the side, but at the other end of the pitch the Portuguese has called on his creative players to lighten the burden on the strikers.
‘We need the strikers obviously to improve but we need the other players to be more effective with the way they transform half chances into chances,’ explained the Blues boss. ‘When they have a chance they have to attack defenders, shoot and provoke challenges.
‘We have to improve in that area because we showed against Arsenal that when we want to be focused on a tactical job we can do that, every player on the pitch did that well.’
Michael Laudrup brings his side to the capital fresh from a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Everton, but Swansea have caused us plenty of problems in recent years, most notably in the semi-final of last season’s Capital One Cup.
Mourinho praised the work Laudrup has carried out during his time in charge at the Liberty Stadium.
‘He’s at the highest level, the Premier League,’ he said.’ In Spain he was at Mallorca and he was sacked midway through the season.
‘He came here to the Premier League with everything to prove because things were not going very well in Spain for him, he’s done fantastically at Swansea and I think everybody recognises he’s a manager with the potential to go further.’
‘Pre-match at the Bridge’ on Chelsea TV will have all of the build-up ahead of the game, including exclusive interviews and all the breaking team news.
The show is free to view for Sky customers on channel 421.