'Yea, we played fantastic,' admitted Jose Mourinho in his post-match interview to Sky Sports after having been a delighted witness to Chelsea's 1-0 win over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, the first time the hosts have been defeated at home in the league all season.
Regardless of how well the club performed against City, in a match where Nemanja Matic starred, where Gary Cahill and John Terry communicated well, where Petr Cech produced superb late saves to show off his agility and hand-to-eye coordination… Mourinho has retained his belief that Chelsea, who are now equal on points to City (53) and just two adrift of top of the charts Arsenal, are anything but underdogs in the race for the Premier League crown.
Chelsea, though, after a further transfer window and one pre-season, will have all the tools necessary to mount a serious title challenge with a full complement of positions. Said Mourinho: 'Against a fantastic team to play the way we did… we built this team and prepared the team to be one of the favourites - next season, so it's a very important step.
'The best team in the Premier League we beat twice. We were fantastic. They had chances, but we had the better chances to kill the game. There was fantastic spirit. When they had the ball we were humble and prepared to work a lot defensively. When we had the ball, we played really, really well.
'We are there, but we are not favourites,' he reiterated.
Adding, Mourinho said: 'The team did amazing. [Branislav] Ivanovic to score that goal was amazing. Their attacking players were always dangerous. Everybody gave a great contribtion.
'Our objective is to build the team, complete the puzzle, the formation of the players, some managers, some clubs because of their nature, they say we need two, three, four years. I want to start the next pre-season to compete with the best. This season? I cannot do that.'
image: © Ronnie Macdonald