Mourinho continues to play down Chelsea’s title chances
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho insists he is still not thinking about the title, despite seeing his side move seven points clear at the top of the table after a 4-0 victory over Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.
After Saturday night’s emphatic Premier League victory over Spurs at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho would only concede that the Blues do have a top-four spot now "in their pocket" but insists that their next target was only to make sure they secure a top-three finish.
He told Sky Sports: "Clearly it is very, very difficult to not get a top-four position. They (Spurs) were the biggest threats to the top four.
"If we lose seven points now with nine matches to go… a lot can happen, but 13 points with nine matches is almost impossible for us to lose that, so from now our objective in the Premier League is in our pocket.
"Our next objective is top three, as that gives us direct qualification [to the Champions League group stages] and if at a certain point our distance to fourth is big, I will say we will think a bit more – but objective now is top three. If Man City win three games in hand, which they can – they are top."
Once Samuel Eto’o opened the scoring on 56 minutes, Chelsea never looked like taking anything less than three points. The win was sealed thanks to an Eden Hazard penalty and a late brace from Demba Ba.
"Yes, the first half was very difficult," added Mourinho, "but at half-time, we were all very calm and I told the players we should not be surprised the game would be difficult.
"As we know, we shouldn’t be surprised or have less confidence or less esteem as in the first half we could not be as dominant, so we were calm.
"We made the change that changed the dynamic of the team, not because [Frank] Lampard was not playing well, but we played the second half with a clear number 10 [Oscar] and that stretched them a bit more and gave them room to play."
Whilst Mourinho admits that Eto’o’s opener did owe a lot to Jan Vertonghen’s wayward back-pass, he never felt in danger.
"Yes it was a defensive mistake," he continued, "but Samuel is so clever how he reads the game, and after that at 1-0, I am not saying they gave up but I think they felt they were in trouble as in the first half, they had a lot of the ball and they were dominant in the game, but how many saves did Peter Cech have?
"I think they are a team that have great control of the ball possession, but they don’t hurt people – so second-half was comfortable for us.
"They are quite dominant as they are comfortable on the ball but as an opponent, you don’t feel in trouble as you don’t feel the danger. Even if you are not controlling the game, you feel calm, and in the second half when we scored even with 11 v 11, I felt it would be difficult for us to concede."
Mourinho heaped praise on Eto’o, who only started the game thanks to an injury to Fernando Torres in the pre-match warm-up.
"I told him before the game, ‘you are going to score for sure’ because he was supposed to be on the bench," Mourinho said.
"Fernando was supposed to start the game. A couple of minutes before the game, he was not able to play and I thought ‘this is your destiny’.
"Samuel is so clever in the way he reads the game. After 1-0, the game had no mystery."