Jose Mourinho refused to condemn his Chelsea flops after their Premier League title defence was plunged into turmoil as Steven Naismith’s hat-trick gave Everton a 3-1 win on Saturday.
Mourinho’s side made a miserable start at Goodison Park as Scotland forward Naismith came off the bench to score twice in the space of five minutes mid-way through the first half.
Nemanja Matic pulled one back for Chelsea before the interval, but Naismith completed his treble in the closing stages to condemn the Blues — with three defeats and only four points from their five matches — to their worst start to a season since 1988.
It left Chelsea 11 points below leaders Manchester City, who snatched a late 1-0 win at Crystal Palace, but Mourinho claimed he had no complaints about his team’s performance and blamed bad luck for their recent woes.
“I am a champion, the players are the champions, the way they are playing is not as bad as the results, but in every single game things are going against us,” Mourinho told BT Sport.
“We have to cope with it. Football is about results. It’s easy to say and I agree completely, but results are too bad.
“I don’t blame my players and I don’t blame myself. I don’t accept the results.”
Mourinho knows he will find himself under mounting pressure if Chelsea’s form does not improve quickly, but the Portuguese coach is confident he can bounce back from the “worst results” of his glittering career.
“I am responsible for the team. I am not happy with the situation and I am not happy with myself,” he said.
“I am not feeling any pressure. The results are the worst results ever in my career. I am not happy, but I am coping well with the situation.”
Mourinho’s mood will have worsened after early-season pace-setters City won 1-0 at Palace courtesy of a last-minute goal by substitute Kelechi Iheanacho.
City had earlier lost Sergio Aguero through injury, but prevailed when 18-year-old Nigerian striker Iheanacho poked in the rebound from a Samir Nasri shot to preserve the visitors’ 100 percent record.
– Walcott on target –
Aguero was forced off in the 24th minute after a heavy challenge by Scott Dann, which saw Kevin De Bruyne come on for his City debut following his £54 million ($83.3 million, 73.5 million euros) switch from Wolfsburg.
The result left Alan Pardew’s Palace third, six points below City and a point behind Arsenal, who won 2-0 at home to Stoke City.
After Alexis Sanchez had twice hit the post, Theo Walcott put Arsenal ahead from Mesut Ozil’s pass in the 31st minute and Olivier Giroud sealed victory with a header five minutes from time.
Later, in the day’s most eagerly anticipated match, Manchester United face bitter rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford.
United have included goalkeeper David de Gea in their starting XI for the first time this season after the Spaniard signed a new contract this week following the collapse of his proposed transfer to Real Madrid.
The hosts could also give a debut to young French striker Anthony Martial, who arrived from Monaco for a reported initial fee of £36 million on transfer deadline day.
Elsewhere, Swansea City saw their unbeaten start to the season ended in a 1-0 defeat at promoted Watford.
Odion Ighalo put Watford ahead from Troy Deeney’s knock-down shortly before the hour and the hosts held on for victory despite the dismissal of Valon Behrami for an ugly foul on Andre Ayew.
Norwich City beat fellow promoted side Bournemouth 3-1 to claim their first home win of the campaign.
Cameron Jerome, Wes Hoolahan and debutant Matt Jarvis found the net for Alex Neil’s side, with Steve Cook replying for Bournemouth.
The day’s other game saw Southampton draw 0-0 at West Bromwich Albion. – Agence France-Presse