Jose Mourinho enters crucial spell in Chelseas season of struggle

Chelsea are looking to respond from a fifth Premier League loss from 10 games this season, in an ill-disciplined clash at West Ham, when they play at Stoke in the fourth round of the League Cup on Tuesday night.

Then Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool visit Stamford Bridge in a match which could be decisive in determining the future of Mourinho, whose side won the League Cup on March 1 and Premier League title on May 3.

Two matches would remain before November's international break - at home to Dynamo Kiev in a clash key to Chelsea's hopes of Champions League progression and, again, at Stoke, this time in the Premier League - but the Blues may not wait after a tumultuous start to the season which shows little sign of abating.

Mourinho signed a new four-year contract on the eve of the season-opener with Swansea but 59 days later, after a 3-1 loss at home to Southampton, he was subject of the first vote of confidence in a manager in Roman Abramovich's 12-year ownership.

The club's October 5 statement expressed support of the Portuguese but stressed results had to improve and he had the squad to do it.

Since then Chelsea have won one of their three games, against a free-falling Aston Villa, with a top-four place in the Premier League in jeopardy and even progression to the knockout stages of the Champions League by no means a formality.

Mourinho has found solace in the League Cup before

It is a competition he has won three times, most recently against Tottenham.

Nemanja Matic missed the Wembley final through suspension and is again banned after his dismissal at West Ham.

Chelsea had seven bookings in the encounter, two for Matic, automatically triggering a set fine of £25,000 for six or more yellow cards

In addition, Mourinho and his assistant Silvino Loura were sent to the stand.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is among those who could replace Matic, but Mourinho is unlikely to revert to the largely second-string side chosen at Walsall.

Striker Loic Remy and forward Pedro have missed the last two matches, at Dynamo Kiev and West Ham, and are likely to miss out again, joining goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (knee) and Branislav Ivanovic (hamstring) in missing out.

Asmir Begovic is expected to continue in goal, although Marco Amelia was on the substitutes' bench at Upton Park following his free transfer arrival.

If Begovic plays, it would mark his first return to Stoke since his summer switch.

The Bosnia goalkeeper believes Chelsea have been improving but have also been unfortunate, with Cesc Fabregas having a goal ruled out for offside and Kurt Zouma denied by goal-line technology at West Ham.

"We got unlucky with the sending-off," Begovic said on

"It's coming from all corners at the moment so we have to cope with that.

"We came back, we showed good character and I think our performance showed we are still positive and trying hard, it's just that little moments are not going our way.

"I think we had a good goal disallowed as well, so things are just not going for us at the moment.

"I thought we were well in the game, no matter what the situation was, and the tiny little differences didn't go our way.

"We're going to take it a game at a time - there is still a long way to go.

"This league is very unpredictable so we need to take care of our performances first - I think our performances are getting better so we just need to keep that going."

Source : PA

Source: PA