Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says 'there is no Christmas' in the Premier League ahead of Boxing Day meeting with West Ham

The Blues manager says players in England deserve respect

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The Independent Football

Footballers playing in Britain deserve respect because of the hectic festive fixture programme, according to Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

Beginning with Monday night's 2-0 victory over Stoke, the Blues will play five matches in less than two weeks.

Boxing Day sees the visit of West Ham while further Premier League matches against Southampton and Tottenham follow before an FA Cup third-round clash against Watford.

"It's very difficult," said Mourinho.

"I have lots of respect for the players in this country. It doesn't matter - English or not English. The moment you are a football player in this country, I respect you a lot.

"At this moment the German guys are on the beach, the Spanish guys are in the Maldives getting sun - everybody else is doing that.

"But in this country you play on the 22nd, you play on Boxing Day, you play on the 28th, you play on New Year's Day. There is no Christmas - just football, and I think (the players) deserve respect.

"The supporters all around the country give them that respect because every stadium is sold-out. And I think the way to do it is with the kind of professionalism my players have shown."

Chelsea's victory over Stoke, avenging their defeat at the Britannia Stadium last season, ensured they held on to top spot in the table for Christmas.

Manchester City's surge has put pressure on the Blues and defender Gary Cahill was happy they managed to get back to winning ways on the road after their first defeat of the season at Newcastle.

He told "We knew we needed a reaction after the Newcastle game and, with Man City playing so well, getting results and breathing down our necks, we know we have to keep our foot down.

"It's fantastic to be top of the league at this stage but we know there's plenty of hard work to come. We'll enjoy our Christmas though."