Mourinho primes Chelsea for League Cup defense

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Chelsea’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho (right) gestures during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in London on Sunday. AFP PHOTO

Chelsea’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho (right) gestures during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in London on Sunday. AFP PHOTO

LONDON: Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has warned his players not to let their standards drop as they prepare to begin their League Cup defense away to third-tier Walsall this week.

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Chelsea belatedly kickstarted their defense of the Premier League title with a 2-0 win over Arsenal on Saturday, with Manchester City’s 2-1 defeat at home to West Ham United allowing Mourinho’s side to close to within eight points of the summit.

It came after a breezy 4-0 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Champions League, but Mourinho knows that his side cannot afford to take risks against Walsall, who are flying high in League One.

“I want to go match after match,” said the Portuguese, whose side beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in last season’s finals.

“Walsall is a cup game, a cup that we won and a cup that we don’t want to throw away. We want to try to win. Wednesday is one more difficult match.”

Mourinho will shuffle his pack for Wednesday’s trip to the Bescot Stadium, with captain John Terry expected to return at center-back after being left on the bench in the stormy win over Arsenal.

Walsall have already eliminated Championship sides Nottingham Forest and Brighton and Hove Albion and are currently second in League One, a point behind Burton Albion, following a 1-1 draw at Peterborough United.

Arsenal have now lost twice in a row, having previously crashed to a 2-1 defeat at Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League, and face an awkward third-round assignment away to local rivals Tottenham.

“It’s not good enough for a club like Arsenal to lose two games in a row,” midfielder Aaron Ramsey told the Arsenal website.

“Hopefully now we can put things right on Wednesday. It will be a feisty game with hopefully some goals in our favor.”

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