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Mourinho embraces festive fixtures


Figure of hate: Chelsea's Diego Costa is never too far from controversy

Figure of hate: Chelsea's Diego Costa is never too far from controversy

Figure of hate: Chelsea's Diego Costa is never too far from controversy

Jose Mourinho knows Chelsea's players need to embrace the beautiful but inhuman Christmas period if this season is to be a success.

Things have proved a cakewalk for the Blues so far this season, with their fine start to the campaign complemented by their traditional rivals faltering.

One bookmaker has already paid out on the west Londoners winning the title, having seen them collect 29 points from their opening 11 matches - a haul only twice bettered in Premier League history.

Mourinho scoffed at suggestions the title race was all but over, especially given Saturday's visit of West Brom begins a hectic run of eight matches in 24 days.

"The mental aspect of it is fundamental," the Portuguese said of the upcoming fixture pile-up.

"You [cannot] do it thinking 'at this moment I should be having Christmas with my family in Portugal, Brazil, France or wherever' or 'the guys in Spain are on holiday' or 'the guys from Germany are on beautiful islands getting the sun'.

"If you do it with that perspective, then you can't do it because the mental aspect is the most important one. I think you have to do it happy, like I do. Happy.

"Would I like a Christmas in Portugal? Yes, but there is a lot of positive things.

"Give to the people what they want: the Boxing Day full of kids, ladies, families - people happy to have football.

"I think all you are doing if you feel it in a positive way, it makes you happy. If you're happy, it's not so difficult to do."

Mourinho believes this is a period in which "players become artists", with the world's focus on English football something to relish.

However, there are those that have struggled to adapt and there certainly appeared to be a correlation last year between the cold snap and Oscar's form dropping.

Mourinho does not expect such issues this time around, though, given the ever-improving attacking midfielder has kicked on markedly.

"I think he's better at every level," Mourinho said. "But, again, what we're going to do now in December is beautiful, but it's not human.

"It's normal that, not just Oscar, all the Oscars in this country, it's normal that they will all suffer.

"It is not easy, especially the 26th and 28th [of December]. That's hard.

"His coach in Brazil, Dunga, is here today and shares with me the same vision as me.

"He recognises Oscar has reached a different level in his game and also in his personality. His intention is always to improve.

"Is he the kind of kid who can play 12 times in one month? I don't think so.

"But that we analyse the situation, we have other options, other players who can play in his position and his rest will obviously arrive to make sure we don't overload him with minutes of football."

Managing Oscar and his team-mates intelligently could mean Chelsea enter the new year with an even tighter stranglehold on the title.

The Blues already boast an eight-point lead on last year's champions, Manchester City, while there is a four-point cushion on Southampton in second.

Mourinho considers Ronald Koeman's side serious contenders but knows it is much harder to chase a side down than to sit at the top.

"We don't have pressure to lead," the Portuguese said. "The pressure is for the ones who are coming from behind.

"I always felt the pressure when I was behind, not when I was on the top and I've always been competing for titles in my career.

"To be first is easier than to be second. If you're first, you think just about yourself. If you're second, you have to think about yourselves and your opponents. It's much easier to be first than second."