Chelsea back up Mourinho's boast

West Bromwich Albion 1 - Chelsea 4
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The Independent Online

Jose Mourinho repeated his claim that Chelsea are statistically the best team in England after their second successive four-goal Premiership win sent them level on points with Arsenal at the top of the Premiership table.

Jose Mourinho repeated his claim that Chelsea are statistically the best team in England after their second successive four-goal Premiership win sent them level on points with Arsenal at the top of the Premiership table.

Chelsea have closed a five-point gap in the space of a week, but remain second as Arsenal have a superior goal difference of six. Even that margin has swung nine goals in Chelsea's favour in the two games Arsenal have failed to win.

But do not be deceived by this flattering scoreline; Chelsea were lucky to be a goal ahead at half-time and Mourinho described it as the worst 45 minutes of his four-month managerial reign. William Gallas broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time as West Brom defended badly from a Frank Lampard corner. Three more goals flew in within 30 minutes of the second half and it was all over.

"We did the impossible and scored in the first half without creating a chance," Mourinho said. "That was very poor and we have a lot to discuss in training. We made some changes and were very good in the second half and always looked very, very dangerous. With the other results it was a fantastic day for Chelsea. That is the beauty of the game in England - if I was five or six points ahead in Portugal the title would be over.

"Over 14 matches in all competitions we have a better statistical record than Arsenal because we have won 12 and drawn two, while they have won 10 and four draws - now that gap has widened. I would say they have just been better than us in the Premiership."

After sneaking ahead on the stroke of half-time, the Portuguese manager showed he was not impressed by taking off Joe Cole and Wayne Bridge, replacing them with £30 million worth of substitutes in Arjen Robben and Ricardo Carvalho, switching Gallas out to left-back and prompting a surprise goal run.

Robben was rocking, but Gallas initially remained the biggest threat and Russell Hoult needed all his strength to tip the Frenchman's 50th-minute shot wide for a corner. The West Brom keeper did not stand a chance when his defence left Eidur Gudjohnsen unmarked to head in Damien Duff's 51st-minute cross.

Game over? Probably, but Chelsea were still not playing that well and Zoltan Gera pulled a goal back in the 56th minute with a powerful drive.

West Brom were pushing for an equaliser three minutes later when they really did lose it, Gera conceding possession to the impressive Lampard, who ran from box to box before gifting Duff the opportunity to score from just inside the West Brom area. That made it four goals between the sides in 14 minutes - so much for boring, boring Chelsea.

Lampard then added to the celebratory mood among the away fans with a sweet strike from 25 yards to score Chelsea's fourth goal with nine minutes to go.

News that Arsenal were losing at home to Southampton soon reached the Hawthorns and Chelsea thought they were going top - many left the ground in that ignorantly blissful state before no doubt later learning that Arsenal had dug out a draw to stay top.

Mourinho's tactic now is to turn up the heat even further and place his players under more pressure in the pursuit of their first title in half a century. That is why he will make changes for Tuesday's Champions' League trip to Moscow and Everton at home next week.

Lampard has now started an incredible 118 consecutive Premiership games and Mourinho said: "I have to rotate some players. I need everyone to feel their place is not safe. I want them to feel the pressure and not that they have a comfortable chair on the pitch."

On the face of it, Mourinho could not be more different than Frank Burrows, who has taken over from Gary Megson to be caretaker-manager at West Brom. But Burrows, 60, with flat cap and moustache, believes he is on the same wavelength as the black-clad Mourinho, who for 45 minutes yesterday looked like the Milk Tray man who had gone on the wrong mission. "I'm very impressed with him and what he has done in a short time at Chelsea," Burrows said. "Just because you are older, it doesn't mean you can't be modern and I'm as modern as him because I've moved with the times.

"We started well but I don't want any sympathy or charity. Games last 90 minutes, not 45, and Chelsea were the best team we have played so far this season in the second half."

Burrows made an impressive difference to West Brom's performance. Making Nwankwo Kanu captain was inspired, but Burrows is still being tipped locally to be replaced by Glenn Hoddle this week. "I've a contract until the summer and that is all I know. Honest," Burrows said.

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