By Toby Davis
LONDON (Reuters) – It would have been crazy to doubt Jose Mourinho’s job security when the Premier League kicked off in August but, with 10 games gone, his position at Chelsea is under intense scrutiny ahead of Saturday’s match with Liverpool.
Just five months after they romped to the title, Chelsea and their talent-packed squad are hovering above the relegation zone, having already lost five times.
The spotlight is now firmly fixed on Mourinho whose erratic behaviour has gone hand-in-hand with his team’s spiralling fortunes.
Sent to the stands in last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at West Ham United, the Portuguese has spent much of the early campaign picking fights.
The club’s former doctor, referees, the Football Association, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and even some of his own players have been caught in the crossfire of Mourinho’s angry outbursts.
The Chelsea boss is, of course, no stranger to controversy but his frequent run-ins with the authorities have rarely, if ever, been accompanied by such consistently poor results on the pitch.
Chelsea’s midweek League Cup defeat at Stoke City on penalties means they go into Saturday’s home game on the back of two consecutive defeats.
Bookmakers now make Mourinho an even-money favourite to be the next Premier League supremo to get the sack.
Fans are openly speculating that owner Roman Abramovich, a man who places notoriously high demands on his managers, could call time on Mourinho’s second spell at Stamford Bridge if Liverpool can inflict another defeat on the champions.
Chelsea’s cause will not be helped if striker Diego Costa fails to recover from the rib injury that forced him off at Stoke but Liverpool are also suffering their own injury problems.
Christian Benteke missed Wednesday’s 1-0 League Cup win over Bournemouth, leaving Liverpool with Belgian Divock Origi as their only fit first-team forward.
New German coach Juergen Klopp is also on the lookout for his first league win since joining the club three weeks ago.
Premier League leaders Manchester City will expect to claim all three points when they host Norwich City on Saturday while Arsenal, who trail Manuel Pellegrini’s side on goal difference, face a tougher task when they visit Swansea City.
Wenger also has to contend with a mounting injury list after Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were early casualties in Tuesday’s embarrassing 3-0 League Cup defeat at second-tier Sheffield Wednesday.
Fourth-placed Manchester United, two points off the top, visit Crystal Palace on Saturday.
(Editing by Neville Dalton)