Chelsea boss Frank Lampard believes Jose Mourinho is as good a manager as he has ever been, insisting he respects his former boss despite recent spats. Mourinho’s Tottenham are top of the Premier League ahead of this weekend’s fixtures, just two points clear of Chelsea. The Portuguese has enjoyed huge success throughout his career but struggled towards the end of his spell at Manchester United and took time to find his feet at Spurs.
The two managers clashed on the touchline in their League Cup meeting in September and last year Mourinho suggested Lampard had used former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte’s tactics to beat Spurs in the league.
But Lampard, who won two Premier League titles under Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, played down the incidents and said the Portuguese was still a top manager. “You don’t get a record as decorated as Jose Mourinho has as a manager without being a very talented coach,” he said yesterday. “For all of us the game is so reactionary at the moment, particularly in the modern era, with social media reactions, that form will always be judged very harshly for any manager.”
Lampard, who is in his second season in charge at Chelsea, said he was not surprised by anything management threw at him. “I’ve got respect for Jose as a manager and I think that’s just how it is,” he said. “I didn’t take any offence to the talk of Antonio Conte’s system or whatever. Jose can have his opinions and it’s not a problem,” he added. “I’ve got respect for him and it’s nothing contentious for me.”
Tomorrow’s match will be the 1,000th game since Roman Abramovich became owner of Chelsea, transforming the club from also-rans to serial trophy contenders. Since Abramovich’s takeover in 2003, the Blues have won five Premier League titles, the club’s only Champions League, two Europa Leagues, five FA Cups and three League Cups.
“As manager and as a player who was involved in a lot of those games I can give him a huge thank you because nothing that we have achieved in the Roman Abramovich era could have happened without him and his support,” said Lampard.
“Whether you’re talking about firstly the financial input but also the development of the training ground, the love and time put into the academy and the trophies we’ve been able to win have all been made possible because of him.”
Four straight wins have taken Spurs to 20 points after nine games, ahead of Liverpool on goal difference, but Frank Lampard’s Chelsea are just two points behind them. Champions Liverpool travel to Brighton, while goal-shy Manchester City host Burnley in the unaccustomed position of 13th in the table and Arsenal seek a win to lift them out of their slump.
Arsenal’s indifferent start to the season has left them languishing 12th in the Premier League table, with just four points from their past five matches. Mikel Arteta, whose side host Wolves tomorrow, remains optimistic despite his side’s poor run and struggles in front of goal — Arsenal have now not scored from open play in five Premier League games.
“When I see the young talents we have got here and the future that we can produce for them, it’s things that get me really excited,” he said. “We know that we are going to go through difficult periods because you don’t change issues that have been going on for years in a small amount of time.”
Fans have been patient so far with their manager, who arrived late last year, but will start to get edgy unless they see an upturn in results soon.
Manchester City, who host Burnley today, have not scored more than once in a Premier League match since September. It was the same old story last weekend. City had 22 shots in their 2-0 defeat against Tottenham, who mustered just four shots, with two on target. The club’s record goalscorer, Sergio Aguero, had a brief runout in Wednesday’s 1-0 win at Olympiakos as he makes his way back to fitness following a hamstring injury. City boss Guardiola said this week he was being cautious with the Argentine striker.
“We have many, many games to play this season and we’ll need him,” he said. “What we want is him to recover in his best condition.” But it is a difficult balancing act for the manager, whose side are already eight points behind Spurs and Liverpool.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Today: Brighton v Liverpool (1230), Manchester City v Burnley (1500), Everton v Leeds (1730), West Brom v Sheffield Utd (2000)
Tomorrow: Southampton v Manchester United (1400), Chelsea v Spurs (1630), Arsenal v Wolves (1915)
On Monday: Leicester v Fulham (1730), West Ham v Aston Villa (2000)
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