Jose Mourinho’s claim that Chelsea’s season is finally heading in the right direction but will face a tough test when the Premier League champions visit unexpected pace-setters Leicester City on Monday.
Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester will go into the game having been taken off the head of the table by Manchester City, who moved top on goal difference following Saturday’s 2-1 win over Swansea City.
But their form this season has been in stark contrast to that of Mourinho’s Chelsea, whose last league outing ended in a shock home defeat by Bournemouth.
That result left the Blues manager stunned and appeared to have undone the progress made by the Stamford Bridge outfit since the last international break.
Fortunately for Mourinho –- who succeeded Ranieri as Chelsea manager when he first took charge of the club in 2004 – the latest emerging crisis was stalled by the mid-week Champions League defeat of FC Porto, which ensured that Chelsea advanced to the last 16 as winners of their group.
With their European future assured, the club can concentrate on improving a disastrous domestic campaign that sees them currently lying 15th, perilously close to the relegation places.
The expectation ever since the opening weeks of the season was that Chelsea would soon turn things around and resume their challenge for a top-four finish.
But with 14 points separating them from the Champions League qualification places, the manager’s belief that his side are back on track must be justified soon if they are to launch a charge up the table.
Right-back Branislav Ivanovic is convinced, however, that Chelsea can now transfer their European form to the Premier League.
“The Champions League is a different style of football, different completely,” said the Serbian.
“Teams like Porto like to play more. They are physically not strong like the teams in the Premier League.
“We need to work very, very hard and much more hard in the Premier League than in the Champions League.
“This season, as every season here, is so long. The good thing about us is we can still change it. We can make a good season.
“A good season at the moment for us, of course, is not the aim to think about, but focus on every game.”
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