Jose Mourinho has been adamant all season that Chelsea are not title contenders. He’s said this while Chelsea took the lead in the Premier League, and he’s said this while beating title favourites Manchester City.
The truth is, Chelsea are better placed than a choking Arsenal and an over-achieving Liverpool to threaten Manchester City and Mourinho knows it. He’s played down expectations all season to take the pressure off his young players, but with 10 games left and Chelsea feasibly needing to win all 10 of them (or at least get 20+ points from them), it’s time for the Chelsea players to step up and soak up the pressure.
It’s not as if Mourinho is giving players time off to hit the Cheltenham Festival next week and rack up bets with the bookies – this is a manager who dropped a player for turning up late to training (after forgetting his passport). He’s not going to go easy on his players when it comes to winning something they have a genuine chance of doing so.
Tottenham aren’t the easiest opponents but at least they won’t sit back and wait for Chelsea to attack. A Tottenham side looking to play proper winning football against Chelsea is going to suffer far more than a Tottenham side looking to close shop and play for a point or a nicked win.
Chelsea’s have a relatively straightforward run-in – they don’t have the FA Cup to worry about but they are well-placed to progress in the Champions League. Arsenal visit later in March but that’s a fixture Mourinho prides himself in winning. As a testament to the quality of football played by the top sides this season that we could go into the final game of the season in a three-way (or four-way, if Arsenal survive March) fight for the league title.
Mourinho will want to wrap things up before then – starting with Spurs on Saturday.