Jose Mourinho tries to put pressure on 'clear favourites' Manchester City as second half of season kicks off
Chelsea manager takes his side to Southampton without the injured Branislav Ivanovic and Frank Lampard and the suspended David Luiz
Jose Mourinho believes that second-place Manchester City are the clear favourites to win the Premier League title this season, and that they are impervious to the pressure that status brings with it.
Asked whether he was up to his familiar tactic of deflecting attention from Chelsea and trying to heap the expectation and pressure upon a rival, Mourinho was dismissive. "You think I am? You think I'm capable of it? See the [City] squad, see the players, the number of goals, the strikers. Dzeko is the third striker of Man City. Dzeko. Pfff. Do you think I'm putting pressure on? Jovetic, is the fourth-choice striker. Pfff."
On a full day of Premier League fixtures, Mourinho's side play Southampton at St Mary's at the start of the second half of the season, trailing leaders Arsenal by two points and a point behind City. Asked whether he thought City could feel the pressure of trying to win their second Premier League title in three seasons, he said: "I don't think so. I think they know how good they are and I think they know they are the clear favourites. I don't think they feel any pressure."
Chelsea face Southampton without the injured Branislav Ivanovic and Frank Lampard and the suspended David Luiz but have Ramires back in the squad. Manchester City have a tricky match at Swansea City, while Arsenal, who are suffering from injuries to several key players, host managerless Cardiff City at the Emirates.
In both seasons in which Cheslea won the title under Mourinho, in 2004-2005 and 2005-2006, the club were leaders at the halfway point. "This season, we are OK," Mourinho added. "We are OK. Last year at this stage [Chelsea] were 11 points behind the leader, so game over. In this moment we are two points behind, so game on. Let's keep going.
"We have to protect the top four [position], because this season the top four will be a big achievement for everyone. And if we can protect the top four, let's see what we can do and let's see if Man City kills everybody or if they keep being close to all of us.
"The title belongs to Man United. And as I was saying when they were 10, 15 points behind and losing at home, I was saying Man United are Man United. Tradition plays a big part, so Man United is there ready to jump into the top four and to give a fight to everyone. Good fun.
"I think the six [he predicted at the start of the season to contend the title] are there. Of course, Everton and Newcastle are close to the top four, but I think Tottenham and Man United are ready to attack the top four. Because the difference between the top four and being champion, it looks like it's not a big difference. So I think the first objective for everyone is to attack the top four and to try to be stable in the top four."
Latest in Sport
Louis van Gaal denies problem with Wilfried Zaha despite Manchester United forward being given no game time
Calum Chambers: Who is Arsenal's £16m right-back target?
Manchester United latest: Angel Di Maria move no closer as Juan Mata emerges as Louis van Gaal's favoured No 10 as prospect of signing
Arsenal transfer news: Versatile Calum Chambers is a 'gamble', admits Arsene Wenger as Arsenal spending passes £50m
Everton transfer news: Romelu Lukaku deal ON, Roberto Martinez assures fans
- 1 Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
- 2 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 3 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
- 4 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star, dies aged 45
- 5 Businessman charged £75 for three small bottles of water in London hotel
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace