London – Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho insists that Manchester City should still be considered Premier League title favourites despite seeing his side top the table for the first time since September.
Chelsea have signalled their title intentions in a potentially season-defining week, winning 1-0 at City before prevailing 3-0 at home to Newcastle United on Saturday.
With Arsenal crashing 5-1 at Liverpool and City dropping points in a goalless draw at Norwich City, Chelsea now find themselves on top of the standings with 13 matches of the season remaining.
However, Mourinho remains adamant that Chelsea will not win the league, and having compared his side to the “little horse” in the title race after the win at City, he employed a new metaphor.
“I want to stop with that story of the horses, but I don't change my idea,” he said.
“Manchester City is a Jaguar. You cannot put an L-plate (learners' plate) behind a Jaguar. We are what we are and we know where we want to go and this season we have only one objective, which is to finish top four.”
He added: “I say as I feel it. I don't feel the change. We are playing well and have been for a long time.
“People individually are in a good moment and we are getting results. We are top of the league and that's something we can't hide.
“Big results are always surprising, but it happens. You did not expect such a big result at Anfield. Man City's attacking power is fantastic, so when you get this kind of result it is a bit surprising.”
Chelsea continue on their way with Belgian winger Eden Hazard taking his game to a new level.
He struck two first-half goals against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge and then completed his first treble in the London club's colours from the penalty spot in the second half.
“I think Hazard's performance has not been different to his other performances,” said Mourinho, who had described the 23-year-old as the world's best young player after his display at City.
“The only difference is that he scored. There were similar performances at Hull, at Manchester City and against Manchester United, Liverpool and Southampton.
“Now he scored a hat-trick, but he is playing well, with consistency and ambition. He is impressive.”
Mourinho enjoyed a trophy-laden spell in his first stint at Stamford Bridge, but he believes that his current side remain a work in progress, even if results suggest otherwise.
“I don't like to compare teams from different generations,” he said.
“My (first) team here lasted almost a decade and won lots of trophies for the club and have history here. These people here are just starting and I don't want to compare.
“Potentially this team is good and hopefully we will have a good decade as only John Terry and Frank Lampard and a couple of players are over 30.”
Newcastle's season is in danger of falling away, but manager Alan Pardew believes the return of key players could bring about a change of fortunes in the run-in.
“Most of the recent results have been impacted by our injuries sustained,” he said. “We have Papiss Cisse out, Loic Remy, Cheick Tiote, Fabricio Coloccini out. We need those big players back, especially at this level.
“Tottenham is next up and a game I'd like to think we can get through and get a strong result. After that, a lot of our big players will come back to us.
“For the next 13 games I think we will be strong. Then in the summer we have work to do.” – Sapa-AFP