Jose Mourinho insists there is no chance of complacency at Stamford Bridge after Chelsea opened up a six-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
Mourinho’s side extended their advantage over second-placed Manchester City after a 1-1 home draw with Southampton on Sunday and have still played a game less than the chasing pack.
With just nine games remaining, the English title appears destined for the Bridge unless Chelsea make a dramatic collapse.
But while Blues boss Mourinho claims he would have taken his side’s current standing at the start of the season, he maintains the title race is far from over.
“I keep saying our situation is much better than if it was the start of the season. But it’s not easy. Every match is difficult,” Mourinho said.
“Remember our two matches against Southampton. In one game there was one penalty that is not a penalty; in another game, a penalty that was not given.
“So you are speaking about six points and getting two. So the danger is always there. But I keep saying, we are there.
“If someone had told me in August that, at the end of March, we’d be six points in front with a match in hand, I’d have signed for that immediately.
“We are not complacent. It is something I cannot accuse my players of in every game, of being complacent. I’m not afraid of that.”
– Title momentum –
Manchester City’s challenge was dented by the shock defeat at struggling Burnley on Saturday and Manuel Pellegrini’s side now lie just one point ahead of Arsenal in third.
Mourinho accepts Arsene Wenger’s side are contenders but questioned whether the Gunners are the side with momentum given their recent Champions League defeat to Monaco.
“Of course Arsenal are contenders. Seven points behind Chelsea, and one less match to play than Chelsea,” he said.
“I keep thinking our opposition is better than them. Both teams are in the race but who has the momentum?”
Diego Costa gave Chelsea the lead against Southampton before a contentious penalty from Dusan Tadic brought Ronald Koeman’s side level.
Chelsea’s performance improved in the second half but Mourinho admitted to mixed feelings about his side’s display.
“There are two perspectives, and I have both with me. I’m not happy with the result, but I am with the six point lead,” he said.
“I’m not jumping with happiness and not crying in disappointment. I have both these perspectives.”
Mourinho also took the opportunity to deliver another barb in the direction of those television pundits who had criticised his side after the Champions League exit to Paris Saint Germain.
He had previously condemned Graeme Souness, the former Liverpool player and manager, for his comments.
Maintaining the theme, he said: “Pundits are pundits, managers are managers. Pundits are paid to wear my suit, but I’m not paid to wear their suit or comment on their comments.
“If, one day, I become a pundit I will wear a manager’s suit and win every game, because that’s what pundits do. And then I can be critics. I can be phenomenal like they are.”
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman praised the display of goalkeeper Fraser Forster, although he refused to debate whether Forster should replace Joe Hart in the England team.
“I’m very happy and pleased that we have Fraser in our team. Not only today: the expectation for today is much bigger than normal, and he had fantastic saves in the second half, but he has played an unbelievably high level for the team,” he said.
“Goalkeepers are always key players in a team, in a good defence, and that’s one of the qualities we have.
“Hart is a good goalkeeper, Fraser is a good goalkeeper. I’m happy to have him in the team. It’s not my decision to make (who the best English goalkeeper is at present).”
Photo Credits : AFP