Jose Mourinho has refuted claims by Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure that the Chelsea boss has shown his rivals a lack of respect.
Mourinho has made strong comments about the work of his counterparts at both Manchester City and Arsenal this season. And following his team’s Champions League exit to Barcelona, a day after Arsenal were knocked out by Bayern Munich, Toure suggested that the former Real Madrid manager’s behavior was less than admirable. Mourinho, though, has a very different perspective.
“If to say the English teams can do it, that Arsenal and City have enough quality to go to Munich and the Camp Nou and turn things around, if to support the teams from the country where I work is a lack of respect, okay,” he said, according to Chelsea’s official website.
“Man City and Arsenal showed I was right, they had enough quality to do it and they both played very good matches, so I don't think that's a lack of respect, it's support. In the same way I say that Man City have three matches in hand and they're capable of winning all three and going top, if that's a lack of respect he has a strange concept of what a lack of respect is.”
There is surely little doubt that Mourinho has been trying to get under the skin of Manuel Pellegrini and Arsene Wenger throughout the campaign. And thus far the Portuguese is coming out on top, with Chelsea seven points clear at the top of the Premier League, although having played a game more than Liverpool and Arsenal and three more than Manchester City who are two points further back.
Chelsea head into Sunday’s contest at Aston Villa on a run of three consecutive wins in the Premier League, conceding just once in the process. It remains to be seen if Mourinho will have one eye on the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Galatasaray on Tuesday, although his options to rotate his defense are limited. David Luiz and Ashley Cole are still ruled out, however striker Fernando Torres could return to the squad.
Surely one of the most curious facts around is it that Mourinho has never yet won at Villa Park. He will surely fancy ending that record on Saturday against an Aston Villa side that has been far better away from home this season. That greater threat on the road was seen in the opening two matches of the season when Villa went to the Emirates and beat Arsenal and then were unfortunate to come away from Stamford Bridge with a defeat.
Having won just four times at Villa Park, their season has perhaps not fulfilled that early optimism. Still, manager Paul Lambert believes his side can cause Chelsea problems.
“It will be a really tough game,” he said, according to Aston Villa’s official website. “They are one of the best teams in Europe, let alone England. But we have to try and do our best and try to win.
"They know we can hurt them, though, because we did that at Stamford Bridge. If we can replicate that form -- which we will have to -- we will certainly give them a game.”
Lambert has a full squad to choose from apart from Ryan Bertrand, with the on-loan left-back ineligible to take on his parent club.
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick off at 1.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBCSN, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.