Chelsea v Liverpool: Top four comes first before any Premier League title aspirations for Jose Mourinho

The Chelsea manager claims that Liverpool's resurgence has forced the top sides to assure their place in the top four before turning towards a title charge

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho knows a revitalised Liverpool means Champions League qualification has to be the first priority for any side with pretensions to challenge for the Barclays Premier League title.

Three points separates leaders Arsenal, second-placed Manchester City, third-placed Chelsea and fourth-placed Liverpool ahead of the weekend's fixtures, with defending champions Manchester United eight points adrift in seventh.

Mourinho's men tackle Liverpool on Sunday bidding to show their title credentials, but the first priority is staying in top-four contention.

"This year the pressure will be not just to win the title, but also to get top four (and Champions League qualification)," Mourinho said.

"Man City are the big, big, big favourites. Liverpool are on holidays (from Europe for) one season: one week to prepare a match, play the match, one more week to prepare the next match. This is an advantage, an unbelievable advantage.

"And Man United, in spite of being a few points behind, are the reality of the last years.

"Arsenal are like us. For many years they've not been at the top of the league. Chelsea won the league a few years' ago, but in the last two leagues were 25 and 14 points off the leaders.

"For us and for Arsenal we have to try and do the best we can.

"We'll do our job, we'll try to finish top four. And if we manage to be in the top four, let's see what we can do (in terms of the title)."

Mourinho believes Liverpool are genuine contenders to lift their first championship in 24 years - and not just because of Luis Suarez.

The Uruguay striker has netted 19 goals in 13 Barclays Premier League appearances this season after serving a 10-match suspension for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in April.

After three wins in the opening five games, Suarez's return has helped the Reds, last champions in 1989/90, into the top four.

"He didn't start the season, with suspension, and after that the numbers are fantastic," Mourinho said.

"When he came back, it was a big plus. But let's be fair: Liverpool did very well without him when he was suspended.

"I think they can (win the Premier League), because they are good, because Brendan (Rodgers) is good, because they have time to prepare the team tactically, because they are not involved in the heat of the knock-out situation in the Champions League or even Europa League."

Chelsea's best performances have come in key contests this season: against Bayern Munich and Manchester City, in particular.

Ivanovic moved on from the biting incident swiftly and hopes his team can rise to the occasion once more on Sunday.

"It's going to be a very important game for us, one of the deciding games this season," Ivanovic told Chelsea TV.

"We must be ready for the big fight. Our team likes to play big games and big challenges.

"I hope we're going to be ready."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future