Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is happy for his evolving team to be in touch with the title race but insists Arsenal are the favourites with his side behind Manchester City in third.
Despite ending City’s 100 per cent home league record and becoming the first side since Birmingham in November 2010 to prevent City scoring at home in the Premier League with their 1-0 win, the Portuguese still sees his side as the outsiders.
“A victory is a victory but a victory against a very good team is better than a victory against an ordinary team. More credit to my players,” he said after Branislav Ivanovic’s winner.
“We love the big games. Obviously when you love it maybe you feel extra motivated for that and I keep saying, the best thing for the evolution of this team is not to play Europa League, not to be 15-20 points behind the leader but with pressure to be there, to be close to the leaders.
“Maybe Arsenal deserve it more than us. They are top of the league and they are the favourites. We go behind them and play and watch.”
The Chelsea boss’ assessment of the title race was typically Mourinho.
“Two horses and a little horse that still needs milk and to learn how to jump. A horse that next season can race,” he said.
“I don’t agree (with their growing title credentials). We lost points at home against West Brom, against West Ham, we lost at Stoke, we lost at Newcastle.
“We are a team in evolution but this is the kind of performance that helps the team to grow up a lot, tactically, mentally, I think it was fantastic.”
Mourinho got his tactics just right in using David Luiz and Nemanja Matic to hold the central ground and instructing the three midfielders in front of them - the Eden Hazard, Ramires and Willian – to run their opponents ragged.
However, centre-backs John Terry and Gary Cahill ensured City’s prolific forward line were left feeding on scraps and Mourinho felt his captain was playing well enough to be considered for England’s World Cup squad.
There are a number of complications associated with that, not least the fact the former national team skipper has made himself unavailable for selection.
“It is up to Roy (Hodgson) and to John, it is not with me,” said Mourinho.
“I think (Phil) Jagielka did a very good job but John is playing amazingly well but now it is up to the FA, to Roy and to John. The decision they make is the decision I accept.”
City boss Manuel Pellegrini played down the significance of the defeat.
“For Chelsea it was a decisive game, not for us,” he said.
“If we won we were six points ahead of them. Now we are two points behind Arsenal. We have 39 points to play for.
“Nobody is thinking about records, we are just thinking about winning the games.”