Jose Mourinho has questioned the assertion of Tottenham head coach Tim Sherwood that Chelsea’s next opponents Manchester City are the best team on the planet.
Sherwood lauded City after Manuel Pellegrini’s men won 5-1 at White Hart Lane to go top of the Premier League ahead of Monday’s contest with Mourinho’s side at the Etihad Stadium. Mourinho believes City will find their true level in European competition, where they face Barcelona in the Champions League first knockout round.
“Maybe, for the Tottenham manager, the planet is England,” said the Chelsea boss. “You will see (how good City are) in the Champions League. You will see in a couple of months.”
Mourinho also suggested City have been fortunate game-changing decisions have gone their way this season — something he described as a coincidence but was at pains to point out as Mike Dean prepares to referee Monday’s match.
“They are lucky,” Mourinho said. “The reality is they have many crucial decisions in their favour.
“Against Liverpool, the (Raheem) Sterling ‘goal’. The penalty on (Luis) Suarez. Against Newcastle the goal that is a clear goal.
“Against Tottenham, (Michael) Dawson’s goal, the penalty, the (Danny Rose) red card. They are having everything.
“I repeat, because I don’t want to be misinterpreted (it is) just pure coincidence. The referees, they try to do their best and sometimes they make mistakes and normally during the season the mistakes are split between teams.
“In their (City’s) case, they have everything in their favour.”
Pellegrini, though, has no interest in any verbal jousting. He said: “I feel I never comment on nothing that Mourinho says. I don’t have nothing against Mourinho. It is not me against Mourinho, or him against me. On Monday it is Manchester City against Chelsea, both teams are fighting for the title. Nothing more.”
City have a 100% record from 11 home matches, averaging more than four goals a game, and are a fearsome prospect for most visiting opponents. Mourinho is unfazed and, unlike in goalless draws at Manchester United and Arsenal, says Chelsea go to City seeking victory. The Portuguese, frustrated by West Ham’s negative tactics in Wednesday’s 0-0 draw, said: “We’re not going to change our philosophy. Chelsea always go to try and win.”
City, who are three points ahead of third-placed Chelsea entering the match, are Mourinho’s favourites for the title in a season of rebuilding for the Blues. He will be more optimistic next term.
“Next pre-season, day one, I will say we are candidates to win the Premier League,” he said. “This season, the speech is we are candidates to win the next match. It doesn’t matter where, it doesn’t matter the opponent.”
Chelsea’s hopes of becoming the first side to stop City winning at the Etihad in the then league this season will be aided by Sergio Aguero’s absence. Pellegrini, though, expects the goals to continue flowing despite injury to the player he regards as the most important at the club.
Aguero is set for a month on the sidelines after suffering a hamstring injury at White Hart Lane. The prolific Argentinian had taken his tally for the season to 26 before limping off just before half-time at White Hart Lane. But with 115 goals scored by City this season, Pellegrini is not overly concerned.
City won seven and drew one during Aguero’s month-long absence with a calf injury recently. Pellegrini said: “Of course it is very difficult because Sergio is a top player for us but I think we will replace him. Sergio has just come back from an injury when he could not play for a month, and all the other strikers — Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko and now Stevan Jovetic — replaced him. I hope they continue the same way.”
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