Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho appears to have ruled his side out of contention for this season’s Premier League title.
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Even though Mourinho’s Blues are within touching distance of the league leaders, Arsenal, at the half way point in the season, the two-time Premier League winning boss has again backed Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City to claim the crown.
Mourinho is instead suggesting that his side’s priority this season is merely to finish in the top four.
“At this moment, everybody is there. It’s Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and City in the top four,” stated Mourinho. “This year, the pressure will be not just to win the title, but to get top four. I think it will be hard.
“If I have to say, and I know you’d like me to say, Manchester City are the big, big, big favourites. Liverpool are there, then Manchester United, in spite of being a few points behind. Leave us there, behind them. We’ll try and do our job and finish top four.
“Arsenal are like us. They play in the Champions League. They are trying to improve from the last few years. For many years they’ve not been at the top of the league. City are the favourites.”
Mourinho’s pessimism over his own side’s title charge is contrasted by his belief that his next opponents, Liverpool, can emerge as surprise title winners as they have the advantage of not playing in a European competition this season.
“Liverpool are on holidays for the whole season, one week to prepare a match, play the match, one more week to prepare the next match, which is an unbelievable advantage,” added Mourinho ahead of the clash with the Reds at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
“I know Brendan has said they can’t win the title, that seventh to first has never happened, but I think they can.
“Because they are good, because Brendan [Rodgers] is good, because they have time to prepare the team tactically, because they are not involved in the heat of the knock-out situation in the Champions League or even the Europa League.
“My players are going to play 60 matches. Liverpool will play 40 matches. It’s a big difference. When you add quality plus ambition plus this advantage, yes, they can win it.
“Brendan is doing fantastically. The team is solid and he was good and intelligent in the way he adapted the team without Steven Gerrard, but he’s training every week in a calm way. Every day, maybe twice a day.
“It’s easy for a team who do that every week to have some dynamic. Being out of Europe is a big advantage, not in terms of resting, but in terms of work.”