City have 'luck' with refs, says Mourinho
MANCHESTER City's status as English Premier League title favourites will pass beneath an unforgiving microscope today, when Jose Mourinho's Chelsea visit for a seismic clash at the Etihad Stadium.
City moved to the top of the table after crushing Tottenham 5-1 on Wednesday and, having already plundered 115 goals in all competitions this season, they are widely seen as the country's outstanding team.
With a run of five consecutive league victories, Chelsea had been keeping pace, but a frustrating 0-0 draw at home to West Ham in mid-week saw them fall three points behind their rivals.
Mourinho has lauded City as clear title favourites in recent weeks, but with today's match drawing closer, he has started to fire off some characteristically pernicious barbs.
The Chelsea manager dismissed Tottenham counterpart Tim Sherwood's claim that City were the best team on the planet, and went on to allege that Manuel Pellegrini's side were benefiting from favourable officiating.
Spurs, Newcastle and Liverpool have all had goals disallowed for offside in recent losses to City. Mourinho said: "They are lucky. The reality is, they have many crucial decisions in their favour.
"Against Liverpool, the (Raheem) Sterling 'goal'. The penalty on (Luis) Suarez (that was not given). Against Newcastle, the (Cheick Tiote) goal that is a clear goal.
"Against Tottenham, (Michael) Dawson's goal, the penalty, the (Danny Rose) red card. They are having everything. I repeat, because I don't want to be misinterpreted - (it is) just pure coincidence."
Mourinho also took a swipe at Pellegrini, mocking the City manager's blunder in the Champions League earlier this season, when the Chilean failed to realise that his side could have topped their group with a single goal, reported The Guardian.
Arguing that the Citizens would not be regarded as a great side until they had triumphed in Europe, he said: "They won one title, they won a couple of Cups. Only in Europe they didn't do well. Speaking objectively, they did very bad in the Champions League in previous seasons, they also did bad in the Europa League.
"The first thing to be successful in Europe is to know the rules of the competition."
Chelsea beat City 2-1 when they met at Stamford Bridge in October. City are a vastly different prospect on home turf, however, having won all 11 of their league matches at the Etihad, where they score goals at a rate of close to four per game.
While Mourinho's tactics tend to be more cautious, Pellegrini refuses to criticise the approach taken by the man who succeeded him as manager of Real Madrid in 2010.
"I don't know which way Chelsea will play on Monday," said the Chilean. "They have a style of play. Maybe it's not the same style that I like, but everyone can play the way they want."
City's top scorer, Sergio Aguero, will miss the game after suffering a hamstring problem during the victory at Spurs. He will be out for a month.
However, Alvaro Negredo is fit again after a shoulder injury, while fellow striker Edin Dzeko has scored seven goals in his last six appearances.
Pellegrini can also call upon Montenegrin Stevan Jovetic, who claimed his first Premier League goal at Spurs.