Soccer--Mourinho hoping for 'little Suarez injury'

Reuters

* Mischievous Mourinho hopes 19-goal Suarez misses match

* Chelsea host Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday (Adds more Mourinho quotes)

Dec 27 (Reuters) - Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho enjoyed a typical moment of mischief on Friday when he suggested a "little injury" might deprive Liverpool of in-form striker Luis Suarez for Sunday's Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge.

Speaking to Chelsea TV, the Portuguese coach avoided any mention of Suarez's controversial behaviour in the clubs' last meeting, at Anfield in April, when he bit the arm of defender Branislav Ivanovic.

Instead, Mourinho said he hoped the free-scoring Uruguay striker - who was suspended for 10 matches for his dental attack - would not be available to play in the clash of the third and fourth-placed clubs.

"Maybe Suarez has got a little injury," he said following Liverpool's 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on Thursday. "I'm not asking for a big injury... Just a little injury to stop him playing for four days."

Knowing that Suarez has scored 19 goals in 13 league games this season, Mourinho - who has bemoaned his own strikers' profligacy this term - unsurprisingly avoided making comparisons.

His three main strikers - Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba - have scored only five times between them.

"Every game is hard," he said. "The difference is some teams are bigger - bigger name, bigger impact... Man City-Liverpool, Chelsea-Liverpool, Chelsea-Arsenal...

"But every game is difficult. The last two matches we played (at home), Swansea and Crystal Palace: 1-0, 2-1. You have to give everything to win matches."

The Portuguese praised Eto'o, despite the Cameroon international having missed two clear chances to net his third league goal of the season.

"He did well," Mourinho said. "I want that feeling that my strikers are working to have chances. I want them to shoot, I want the goalkeeper to save, the ball to hit the post."

TIGHT RACE

Mourinho also said he hoped to see Chelsea awarded more penalties for fouls on their tricky Belgium winger Eden Hazard, who scored in a 1-0 win over Swansea City on Thursday.

"I think that it happens a lot," he explained. "That Eden Hazard beats people, goes into the box and is not getting penalties in situations like that."

Mourinho also foresees a very championship race, saying: "This year I think the pressure will be not only to win the title, it will be to get into the top four. It will be hard. I think Manchester City is a big, big favourite."

He said Liverpool, managed by Brendan Rodgers who worked under him at Chelsea during Mourinho's first stint in charge, had an edge by not being involved in European competition.

"Liverpool are on holiday this season. They have a big advantage because they have one week to prepare the match, then they play the match - because they are not involved in the heat of the knockout of the Champions League or even the Europa League," the Portuguese said.

"The manager (Rodgers) is one of my best friends in the game. I have full respect for a team like Liverpool. He's doing a fantastic job. He's training every week in a calm way, training every day.

"He has a big advantage compared to the other teams... It's easier for a team that does that every day, every week," said Mourinho, who has bemoaned being unable to work on tactics with his team because of the frequency of matches.

Chelsea will be without their suspended Brazil midfielder Ramires, who is likely to be replaced by England's Frank Lampard on an afternoon when captain John Terry is set to make his 600th appearance for the west London club.

Ivanovic is expected to continue at right back and, rejecting any chance to talk about Suarez, the Serbia international stressed the importance of the fixture.

"It's going to be a very important game for us, one of the deciding games this season," he said. "We must be ready for the big fight. Our team likes to play big games and big challenges." (Reporting by Tim Collings, Additional reporting by Clare Lovell; editing by Rex Gowar)

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