LONDON: Chelsea’s failure to do better than draw 0-0 at home to strugglling Norwich meant that Manuel Pellegrini moved closer to celebrating his first league title in an 10-year European career.
To thus reward their Chilean manager, City need to win their remaining two games at home to Aston Villa on Wednesday and West Ham next Sunday. They are already League Cup holders after having beaten Sunderland at Wembley in March.
Not that Pellegrini is taking anything for granted. After City’s 3-2 win at Everton on Saturday he said: “This is a huge step towards winning the title but my message was the same as it was after we lost at Liverpool – the title is not over. This was a very big test. We had to play a very good game against a very good team.”
Chelsea took on Norwich after a difficult week in which they were well beaten by Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-final, Mourinho came in for heavy criticism for his defensive tactics and took out his frustration in a sharp exchange of words with Eden Hazard.
The Belgian was dropped to the subs’ bench against Norwich with Mourinho saying he was enacting “justice in giving Andre Schurrle and Mohamed Salah the possibility to play again because against Liverpool they were fantastic in their commitment and their effort.”
Schurrle provided more commitment in the first half. He had one shot blocked, one shot well saved by keeper John Ruddy and then saw another effort strike a post.
Hazard was forgiven for complaining about Mourinho’s tactics and brought into the game after half-time along with David Luiz who immediately hit the bar. Hazard himself had a penalty claim denied but that was the closest either side came to a winning goal.
Chelsea thus remained third and though Liverpool may go top on Monday night the likelihood is that Manchester City will win the title, leaving Mourinho without a trophy for the first time in 12 years.