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Mourinho: Pressure on City to win Premier League

ESPN staff
December 3, 2013 « Wenger rejects Pato, Morata rumours | Chartbeat test »
Jose Mourinho says there are six teams in the hunt for the title © Getty Images
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Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho believes Manchester City face the most pressure to win the Premier League this season, but insists it is still too early to talk about favourites.

The Portuguese claimed that there are still six teams capable of title glory at the end of the season, but that it is Manuel Pellegrini's side that are favourites because of their squad depth.

"I keep saying the same: I don't think we can speak about favourites. We can say that one team is top of the league and some are a little bit far, but I keep thinking that all six teams are title contenders," Mourinho said.

"But I keep saying that the team with more responsibilities to win it because their squad is quite unique is Manchester City."

Manchester United and Tottenham are nine and 10 points off the pace but they still remain in contention, according to Mourinho. However, if they fall any further behind they will find it hard to challenge.

"I think at this moment, Spurs and United know that if the next step is to reduce from 10 to seven, nine to six, it's to go again into the race but if the next move is from 10 to 13, or nine to 12, it becomes hard.

"In this moment, some teams like Arsenal are a lot more comfortable because they can slide one match and nothing happens to them. Some other teams know the next night can be crucial. But the six teams are very equal in their potential.

"Different teams in the way they play, in their profiles, but potentially all six are very good teams. Other teams are doing very well - Everton, Southampton, Newcastle - but in the end these six are the real title contenders.

"I keep saying: there's a lot to play in December. At the beginning of January we can have a look and say if all six are with short distances, or if someone has opened up a real gap. At this moment until the end of the year, it's a moment not to decide but to clarify a bit the situation."

Meanwhile, Mourinho again made it clear that Romelu Lukaku will return to Chelsea for next season, dismissing the forward's claims he may stay at Everton.

The Belgian suggested on Saturday that he would be open to extending his spell at Goodison Park, saying: "I think it's not a bad idea."

Mourinho, however, joked: "Maybe there is a new rule in football where, when the season finishes, every player is free to decide his future. Maybe it's a new rule."

Mourinho also revealed how Ashley Cole is no longer first-choice - beyond his recent lack of appearances - explaining that the England international must work hard to dislodge Cesar Azpilicueta.

Mourinho is known to have been impressed with the Spanish right-back's adaptation to the left side. As it stands, it is only squad rotation that will see Cole back in the side.

He said: "I don't know. But one of these two, yes. Sunderland, Stoke... one of these two matches, I think he will. Or, if I decide not to, next week Steaua Bucharest again. It's a position where Azpilicueta has played a group of consecutive matches so sooner or later I'll have to change, so Ashley will play soon.

"I think a left-back with the right foot is not a big problem, really. To defend the inside space, which is important, they are very comfortable. When you play with a winger on the left side, as we do, probably the left-back has also to play with the ball in inside areas, so it's not a problem."

Mourinho has discussed the issue with Cole. He said: "I think any player that normally starts matches, and Ashley has started matches through all his career... when they don't [start], naturally they're not the happiest guy in the camp.

"But professionally he is always. A team player? Yes. Friend of his friend? Yes. He deserves to play, but Azpilicueta is doing really well, so it's a question of Ashley working and waiting for his opportunity. But he's more than ready to play."

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