Chelsea will move within one win of claiming the Premier League title if they defeat a rejuvenated Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Wednesday. Sunday’s goalless draw at Arsenal meant that Chelsea won’t be able to secure the championship at Leicester, but did kill off any faint hope their rivals had of a sensational turnaround in the closing games of the campaign.
Despite their clear superiority this season, some derided Chelsea’s performance at Arsenal as being "boring." But José Mourinho has again refuted any suggestion that they are not worthy champions, pointing out that only Manchester City have scored more goals, while Chelsea lead the way in victories and fewest defeats.
"In any point of analysis in any criteria you can find, we are the best team or the second-best team," Mourinho said in his pre-match press conference.
"As simple as that."
Having led the standings from start to finish this season, some of also raised the possibility that Chelsea could go onto dominate the Premier League as Bayern Munich have done in Germany. Yet the strength of the competition in England means that is highly unlikely, according to Mourinho.
"It's even more difficult to dominate than before," he said, reports Sky Sports.
"How can you speak about domination when everyone knows what will happen next summer? Arsenal have a phenomenal squad. Thierry Henry said they need four top-class players. Give Arsenal four top-class players and I think they will again be the 'Invincibles.'"
"Man United have a phenomenal squad, including the most expensive player in the history of the Premier League [Angel di Maria], who is not playing. They are a club where Financial Fair Play doesn't make a huge difference for them and they will invest hugely again in the summer.
"Man City have done phenomenally, winning two titles in three years, and people say they will invest hugely. Liverpool fighting for the title for many years. So next year it will be even more difficult for everyone than this year."
Few would expect Leicester to prevent Chelsea from being in a position to claim the Premier League trophy at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday. However, last season’s Championship winners have been in form as good as any team in the division in recent weeks. Having looked destined for the drop only a month ago, Leicester have won four straight matches to move out of the relegation zone with five games left.
Given the scale of the task going up against the champions-in-waiting and the fact that Leicester face a Saturday lunchtime kickoff against fellow strugglers Newcastle United, there have been suggestion that manager Nigel Pearson could field a weakened side on Wednesday. Pearson, though, was vehement in his repost to the idea that he would be sacrificing the fixture.
"A weakened side is being disrespectful,” he said. "I’ll pick the side that I think is best suited to winning this football match, as I do every time our team takes the field. And the considerations will be made for the wellbeing of our footballers, not for anybody else, but for us. There’s enough riding on our season and we’ve got to make sure that we play the best side that we can and the following game the best side that we can."
Pearson’s counterpart also has some notable selection dilemmas. Mourinho revealed that he is undecided whether he will being back Diego Costa after the striker’s hamstring troubles, while doubt also remains about the health of Oscar, after he was taken to hospital following a blow to the head from Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina.
Kickoff time: 2:45 p.m. ET
TV channel: NBCSN
Live stream: NBC Sports Live Extra