LONDON: Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has continued to insist that Manchester City are favourites to win the Premier League even though a 4:0 derby crushing of Tottenham took the Blues nine points clear of them.
With nine games remaining, Chelsea are also seven points clear of Liverpool and Arsenal, who are second and third in the table but each with a game in hand. City, instead, have three games in hand but have slipped off the points pace because of their progress in the FA Cup.
Mourinho said: “I would prefer to be in City’s position. They have three matches in hand compared to us. If they win them all then they are top. We don’t have control of our destiny. Even if we win all our matches then maybe we will not be champions. If City win their games, then they are certainly champions.”
Chelsea captain John Terry echoed Mourinho’s modesty. Terry, restored to form by the Happy One’s return to Stamford Bridge, said: “City are the strongest side. They have shown that in games they performed. It’s great for us to have the points on the board but they have a bigger and better squad, a lot of firepower up front.
“They have a game in midweek against Barcelona and if they go out of the Champions League it only strengthens their chances.”
Chelsea beat Tottenham with all the goals coming in a second-half which also saw Spurs reduced to 10 men by the expulsion of central defender Younis Kaboul.
Samuel Eto’o responded to Mourinho’s recent jibes about uncertainty over his age by celebrating Chelsea’s opening goal in leaning on a corner flag, pretending to be an old man with a stick.
Mourinho accepted the joke at his own expense, saying: “Eto’o’s celebration was brilliant, a great idea to make fun of a story. Fernando Torres had been due to start but could not after being injured in the warm-up so I said to Eto’o that it was his destiny to score today.
“The goal, his movement, the way he held the ball – he was very important for us.”
Eden Hazard (penalty) and Eto’o’s substitute Demba (two) scored the other goals to prompt a furious outburst by Spurs’ manager Steve Sherwood at his own players.
Sherwood said: “There was a lack of character. Too many of the team are too nice to each other. You need to show more guts. You can’t legislate for capitulation. – you can’t have that. We let down the fans again on the big occasion.”
Defeat left Spurs fifth in the table, with an uphill task to reach the Champions League spots. That will virtually guarantee Sherwood’s summer departure with speculation building about the arrival of Louis Van Gaal.