LONDON (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has urged Chelsea to “enjoy the moment” and make sure they overtake at least one of their Premier League title rivals in Thursday’s traditional Boxing Day fixtures.
Swansea City are the visitors to Stamford Bridge on a day that also sees leaders Liverpool travel to Manchester City, who are in third place.
Just two points separate the top five, with Arsenal second, Chelsea fourth and Everton fifth.
“The best way to get the first objective, which is top four and Champions League (qualification), is to be close in the title race, so let’s enjoy the moment,” Mourinho said.
“I know Swansea are a good team with good players and a certain style of play, but we are two points behind and two title contenders are playing each other. It is important for us to win.”
Chelsea drew 0-0 at Arsenal on Monday, the day after Swansea had been beaten 2-1 at home by Everton.
“It is a bit more difficult for us because we played on Monday and our opponents played on Sunday, so they had one more day to rest — and one more day is a lot,” Mourinho added.
“But I hope Stamford Bridge is there for us. When I say Stamford Bridge I mean Stamford Bridge with noise, because last Boxing Day Chelsea were 11 points behind the leaders — Chelsea were out of the title race — and we are there now.
“We are two points behind both leaders, so we have reasons to keep going.”
Mourinho has not tasted a traditional English festive period of hectic fixture scheduling since 2006, having enjoyed winter breaks in Italy and Spain since then while in charge of Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
“I love it,” he said. “I don’t play, of course, so for the players it is more difficult than it is for me, but I always feel very proud to be working on Boxing Day and giving the people what they want.
“My wife and my kids, they are fantastic. They understand completely that I love to do it. They are in England, they are not with the Portuguese family.
“They miss their family, but they know that I have to do it and I am very happy to do it.”
Swansea’s hopes of recording a first victory in six Premier League games have been hit by the loss of forward Michu for six weeks.
The Spain international requires surgery on an ankle problem and the blow comes shortly after winger Nathan Dyer suffered a serious ankle injury at Norwich City.
“It’s not good news,” said manager Michael Laudrup.
“Unfortunately he will need an operation. It can be done in the next week and he should be back playing in around a month and a half.”
The growing injury problems mean Laudrup is reconsidering his approach to the January transfer window.
“What has happened in the last couple of weeks has changed things,” the Dane admitted.
“We will probably do something now in January and try to add something that we don’t have in certain positions. The numbers are a bit down and that is risky for the last four months of the season.”
Ben Davies, the Swansea left-back, has been rewarded for his impressive form with a contract extension that will keep him at the club until 2017.
The 20-year-old said: “It wasn’t a difficult decision and it’s always great to sign a new deal and commit my future to the club.”