Jose Mourinho has said he believes there is now a four-horse race for the Premier League title after Liverpool's 5-1 demolition of Arsenal on Saturday.
The Chelsea manager praised Brendan Rodgers' side and said he felt their challenge would benefit from the fact that they are not playing Champions League football.
"I think all the top four can win the title. They [Liverpool] have a very young team to develop, the manager is very good, and the fact they don't play Champions League is very important for them," he said. "Liverpool only plays one match a week and that makes a real difference when it comes to March, April, beginning of May.
"The difference between first and fourth is six points. Everybody is in the race, everybody has an influence in the race, every team is fighting for points, every team is taking points from the big teams.
"This is the moment when the people lowest in the table feel the heat, and they feel they need to win matches. You saw what West Ham did to us, what Fulham did to United, what Norwich did to City -- this is the reality of this league, every match is very difficult.
Asked about his side's chances after they went top following Saturday's 3-0 home win over Newcastle United, Mourinho said he still did not expect to win the league.
He added: "I expect the team to be better, I expect the players to be better, the younger ones to evolve.
"I expect the older ones to be stable in their performance, I expect the team to have an identity, I expect the team to have a philosophy of playing and competing -- and all these things are coming step by step, and for me that's the most important thing.
"Do I like to be the top of the league? Yes, I like it. I think everybody likes it! Are we going to play football to try and stay there? Of course we are going to. Do we think we can win tomorrow [at West Brom]? Of course we can, but it's difficult."
He said the fact that only six points separated first from fourth meant nobody could be considered favourites with 13 games still to be played.
"Independent of mathematics, I think other teams are better placed than us," he explained. "I keep saying I want to see fifth far from us because the Champions League spot is something so important. The first thing we have to do is fight for the fourth and be solid.
"This league is much more dangerous than 2012-13, so I think it's fundamental that the fifth if far from us."