Jose Mourinho has continued to play down his Chelsea side’s prospects of lifting the Premier League title this season. Chelsea go into Saturday’s fixture with Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge just two points off Arsenal at the top of the table after their superb 1-0 victory over second placed Manchester City on Monday evening. Yet, Mourinho still claims that it is Arsenal and City who have all the pressure to deliver the championship.
“We are not a squad like City with every player in the best moment of their careers,” he explained, according to Chelsea’s official website. “Arsenal are the biggest example of stability and a manager working with players year after year.
“We are different, we are just beginning. In the first day of next pre-season I will say yes we are there and we accept people considering Chelsea as candidates. Today, no. We are there because we are doing very well or because maybe Man City and Arsenal aren't doing as well as they should with the conditions they have.
“We don't put ourselves at the same level as they are. Do we dream of winning the Premier League? Of course. If we didn't we wouldn't play. Do we want to win the next game against Newcastle and to be there? Of course we do. If we have the chance we are not going to say we don't want to, but we don't have the same responsibilities, that's for sure.”
There can be little doubt that Mourinho’s remarks are merely mind games, aimed both at putting the pressure on his title rivals and removing it from his own players. Right now it appears to be working. Chelsea produced arguably their best performance thus far in Mourinho’s second spell in charge against City, with the team defending compactly and then striking devastatingly on the counter attack.
Still, it will likely be a much different encounter on Saturday against a Newcastle side that it is hard to envisage being so recklessly offensive as City. The visitors, though, face a tough challenge heading to Stamford Bridge. It has been a tumultuous past few weeks for Newcastle both on and off the field. Joe Kinnear’s bizarre reign as director of football was brought to an inevitable end this week, with a grand total of zero players being signed on a permanent basis and having negotiated the sale of the club’s best player -- Yohan Cabaye -- as his most significant piece of business. As if that weren’t enough, Newcastle’s reserve team coach Willie Donachie has resigned over allegations he struck one of his players.
Results for Alan Pardew’s side have not been any more encouraging, with last weekend’s 3-0 home defeat to local rivals Sunderland making it four losses in their last six Premier League outings. What was not so long ago a season full of optimism now looks destined, perhaps not entirely unintentionally on behalf of the club’s hierarchy, to fizzle out into mid-table mediocrity. Out of both cups, clear of relegation and with apparently no ambition to compete for a Europa League spot, Pardew surely faces a challenge to motivate his players with 14 matches of the Premier League season still remaining.
Their efforts to replicate the 2-0 victory over Chelsea at St James’ Park earlier in the season will be hampered by the absence of the two goal-scorers from that day, Loic Remy and Yoan Gouffran through suspension and injury, respectively. Cheick Tiote will also be ruled out, along with Fabricio Coloccini. There are also doubts over Papiss Cisse and Gabriel Obertan.
Chelsea have no new fitness concerns, with just Fernando Torres, who is nearing a return, and long-term injury victim Marco van Ginkel ruled out.
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick off at 10 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by USA, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.