Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho played down his side’s chances of winning the Premier League for the umpteenth time on Sunday.
Following a 2-0 victory over Liverpool at Anfield, the Portuguese claimed that he was pleased to have edged closer to a top-three finish, and insisted that he and his players are not thinking of the title.
‘We're back in nothing’, he told Sky Sports. ‘At this moment we are almost third. With Everton's defeat (on Saturday) we automatically qualified for the Champions League.
‘Now with these three points we need one point to finish third. Champions are only one (team) and the champions will be City or Liverpool’.
Mourinho has played down his side’s chances of winning the championship throughout the season, pointing out Manchester City’s games in hand on many occasions. However, a quick look at the table and one does get the impression that the Blues are not entirely out of it.
At the moment, Liverpool are top with 80 points from 36 matches, Chelsea are second with 78 points and City are third with 77. However, Manuel Pellegrini’s side have a game in hand and also have a better goal difference than both their rivals.
The title is now in City’s hands and that is reflected in the fact that bookmakers have made the Citizens the favourites to win. But defender Pablo Zabaleta is not getting carried away and believes that the race for the championship will go down to the wire just like it did two years ago.
Back in 2012, two goals in injury time against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the season saw City clinch the title on goal difference for the first time in the Premier League era under Roberto Mancini.
Full-back Zabaleta is not ruling out a similar situation this term and is also not buying Mourinho’s opinion that Chelsea are not in the title race.
‘I think we were talking about that this week’, The Guardian quotes the Argentina international as saying. ‘We know we have been in this situation two years ago and the most important thing we have learned from that time is the team spirit, to keep fighting and keep going.
‘The champions are the ones who have this habit and we are one of those teams that fight for it. Hopefully, we can continue winning all the games and show one more time that these players, this manager, this team, with the staff still working hard, is very hungry for the title.
‘We cannot forget Chelsea. They have a top team, they have a top manager. They showed they are still very hungry for the title. Everything is very tight at the top and it is going to be a fantastic race between now and the end’.