Liverpool poses next challenge for under-pressure Mourinho

LONDON (AP) If things get any worse, Jose Mourinho might not last much longer in the Chelsea dugout.

Chelsea, which hosts Liverpool on Saturday, expressed its ”full support” in its most successful manager at the start of October. The public vote of confidence didn’t initiate a change in fortune, however.

The team has only one win in four games since and Mourinho’s behavior has become increasingly erratic. He’s facing a stadium ban over his latest misconduct charge for confronting match officials.

Until now, Mourinho seemed to be the byword for success. But this season the Portuguese coach has the London club in a scrap at the bottom of the standings rather than in a more familiar elevated position. Since cruising to the Premier League title in May, Chelsea has lost half of its 10 games.

Mourinho can’t even count on the cups. Stoke eliminated the Blues from the League Cup on Tuesday and they have only four points from a possible nine so far in the group stage of the Champions League.

After taking on Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, Chelsea hosts Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday. And the Blues might have to cope in both games without Diego Costa unless the striker can return from a rib injury.

Although Chelsea in 15th in the standings, it would draw level on points with Liverpool, which is currently ninth, with a win on Saturday.

Liverpool is hoping to have Christian Benteke fit for the trip to Stamford Bridge after the forward missed Wednesday’s League Cup win over Bournemouth with a hamstring problem. Although that game ended Juergen Klopp’s search for a first win as Liverpool manager, the German has still only two draws in the league.

Here are some things to know about this weekend’s matches:

ARSENAL INJURIES

Less than three months into the season, Arsene Wenger is already grappling with an injury-depleted Arsenal squad – after signing no outfield players in the transfer window.

Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain this week joined an injury list which includes Danny Welbeck (knee), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Tomas Rosicky (knee), Mikel Arteta (ankle) and Aaron Ramsey (hamstring).

In Tuesday’s League Cup loss at Sheffield Wednesday, Oxlade-Chamberlain was taken off after five minutes with a hamstring problem and his replacement, Walcott, soon went off with a calf complaint.

”We hope they are light injuries, but they are out until after the international break,” Wenger said.

That means they will be out for at least three weeks, missing Saturday’s trip to Swansea, the Champions League game at Bayern Munich on Wednesday and the north London derby against Tottenham.

Arsenal, though, is only being kept off the top of the standings on goal difference by Manchester City, which hosts Norwich on Saturday.

SHOT-SHY UNITED

After two games without scoring – including extra time of the League Cup loss to second-tier club Middlesbrough – Manchester United is in need of goals against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

In the 10 league games so far, United has managed only 105 efforts on goal, which equates to 10.5 shots per match. By contrast, Arsenal is averaging 19.6 shots per game, according to the Press Association.

”There’s a lack of creativity and risk,” former United midfielder Paul Scholes told the BBC. ”It’s a team now you wouldn’t want to play against because they’re tightly organized. But it seems (United manager Louis van Gaal) doesn’t want players to beat men and it’s probably not a team I’d have enjoyed playing in.”

United is fourth in the standings behind West Ham on goal difference. West Ham is at Watford on Saturday.

NEW MANAGER

Aston Villa is under the temporary management off Kevin MacDonald following Tim Sherwood’s firing as the last-place team prepares to face Tottenham on Monday.