Title race not over: Mourinho

Although his team trails Manchester United by eight points, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says the Premier League title race is far from over.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:38 IST
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Although his team trails Manchester United by eight points, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says the Premier League title race is far from over. Chelsea's 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday was a boost for Manchester United, which has a sizable lead over the two-time defending champions and is 16 points ahead of fourth-place Liverpool and 18 ahead of the sixth-place Gunners. But Mourinho, whose team could cut the lead to five points by beating Newcastle at home on Wednesday, says the Blues will enjoy the challenge of getting back to the top. "Sir Alex Ferguson must be happy because we dropped two points. But, if he thinks it's over, he is in trouble," said Mourinho, whose team drew 1-1 at Old Trafford two weeks ago. "It is not. We have shown we are ready. I always say to be in front is better but let's chase them. We can do it. We are not afraid of them. We can beat them at Stamford Bridge and there is a long way to go." The bookmakers don't agree. Before Sunday's game, the Blues, whose odds were as short as 1-2 earlier in the season, were 8-11 with William Hill to win the title and United was evens. Now United is 8-11 and Chelsea is evens, with Liverpool at 40-1 and Arsenal 50-1. On Sunday, Mathieu Flamini put Arsenal ahead in the 78th minute and Michael Essien leveled with a 30-meter (yard) shot in the 84th. Chelsea had a handful of near-misses and chances to win the game in the final stages, with Essien hitting the crossbar and Frank Lampard hitting the post. Chelsea has won the last two Premier League titles, with Arsenal winning in 2004 and United last lifting the league trophy in 2003. Dismissing Arsenal Mourinho dismissed Arsenal's chances of another title. "If Arsenal win their game in hand, there will still be 15 points between them and Manchester United, so I think it is impossible for them to be champions," the Chelsea manager said. Arsenal hasn't beaten Chelsea in eight meetings and not since before Mourinho became Blues manager in June 2004. "I am frustrated because we wanted to win the game and we were close to winning it," said Gunners manager Arsene Wenger, whose side played without suspended Kolo Toure and the injured William Gallas, Thierry Henry and Tomas Rosicky. "I do not look at Chelsea. I do not look at Man United. I look at my team." Arsenal's poor away form has contributed to it being so far off the pace halfway through the season. But the Gunners have stepped up in big games - winning at Manchester United and beating Liverpool and north London rival Tottenham this season. Part of the problem is the youthful makeup of the squad. All of the back four on Sunday were aged under 21. "We had a very young defence and I wanted to give them protection, to not be too open too much," Wenger said. "It worked well overall. When you look at their age, what they did ... was sensational. We came to try to win the game and we nearly did that." (AP)