Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho believes Liverpool are positioned perfectly to make a challenge for the Premier League title this season.
• Worrall: Chelsea deserve to be disappointed
Mourinho has again suggested that the Reds’ lack of involvement in European competition will play into their hands as their rivals prepare for a hectic schedule over the next few weeks.
And after their impressive 5-1 win against Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday, the Blues boss believes the time has come to start taking Liverpool’s title push seriously.
“People are asking if Arsenal might fall apart after what happened at Liverpool, but it can happen to any one of the three of us -- any one -- but not Liverpool, because they have this stability of playing one match a week,” he is quoted as saying in the Daily Mirror.
“If they lose a match or have an injury, everything is more stable. For all of us involved in the Champions League and Premier League race, facing match after match, you do find the concentration and the focus is split by the Champions League.
“You start to think about, ‘we don’t want to play this player because we have the Champions League [coming up]’ and ‘we want to rest this player or that one’. But none of us is free for that to happen.
“I would be disappointed if my team collapses and can’t keep the level, but if we keep this level, even if we lose points and matches and don’t win the league, I wouldn’t be disappointed.”
Mourinho went on to suggest that the lack of pressure on Liverpool will also prove beneficial to their cause.
“Liverpool are in a similar situation to us,” he said. “They didn’t start the season as top favourites, they have a couple of very experienced players, like Stevie Gerrard and the central defenders. They are also a very young team and are developing, with a manager who is very good. But the fact they don’t play Champions League is very important for them.
“When the Champions League comes, it’s a big thing for the other teams. Liverpool only play one match every week, and that makes a real difference at the end of the season, March to May. This can play a big role.
“People think the head-to-head matches are key but maybe the teams not in the top four will be very influential in the league. Normally, people are pushed to say Chelsea against Arsenal, or Arsenal against [Manchester] City, or Liverpool against City -- that these are the matches that decide things, but maybe they aren’t.
“In other leagues, it is like that. Madrid against Barcelona decides the title. Benfica against Porto decides the title. It’s not the same situation here. The title is decided match after match.”