Jose Mourinho admires the Christmas Spirit in England

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Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is full of admiration for footballers in England because of their commitment over the festive season.

Mourinho’s side embarked on the first of five games in less than two weeks when they beat Stoke 2-0 on Monday at the Britannia Stadium.

And while many of the top European leagues are on a winter break, Mourinho is relishing the challenge, although he concedes he is facing a testing period.

“It’s very difficult,” said Mourinho, ahead of Friday’s match with West Ham.

“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 (of December), 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 Chelsea and defender Gary Cahill was happy the Stamford Bridge side managed to get back to winning ways on the road after their first defeat of the season at Newcastle.

Cahill said: “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.”