Feb 09, 2015

    Mourinho: Title race is far from over


    BRANISLAV Ivanovic's second-half winner enabled Chelsea to take advantage of Manchester City's 1-1 draw against Hull and strengthen their grip on pole position in the English Premier League on Saturday.

    It also meant that Blues boss Jose Mourinho finally claimed a first win at Villa Park at what was the sixth attempt.

    But he was keen to play down the significance of his side's advantage over City, claiming that he will take nothing for granted until another title is mathematically guaranteed.

    "In another country, I would say it's fantastic. In this country, I would say it's nothing," Mourinho said.

    "Every game is difficult, anything can happen. It's very, very difficult.

    "Seven points means seven points, we have 14 matches to go. We are speaking about 42 points to play for and in 42, we have a lead of seven. I think it's nothing.

    "I'm surprised by nothing. In this country, every team can take points so I am not surprised.

    "I didn't care about it. Somebody told me after the game and that was it.

    "When you are top of the league, you don't need other teams to lose points. If they lose, good, but if they don't, it's not a problem.

    "We have to focus on ourselves. If we win the next game, we have a seven-point lead with 13 matches to go. Let's try to go step by step."

    Over at Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers praised the performance of his young players as they played a leading role in extending the Reds' unbeaten record against Everton in the Merseyside derby to 10 games.

    Much of the build-up to the 224th meeting between the two clubs was focused on Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard as he prepared to play his final league game against Everton prior to his move to the Los Angeles Galaxy at the end of the season.

    Gerrard's performance in the 0-0 draw at Goodison Park on Saturday was described as "excellent" by Rodgers and the 34-year-old went as close as anyone to winning the game with a second-half volley, which was deflected over his own crossbar by Everton's Steven Naismith.

    But it was converted defender Emre Can, who helped Liverpool keep a fourth successive Premier League clean sheet, and 19-year-old winger Jordon Ibe on only his second league start for Liverpool, who typified his team's performance in the eyes of Rodgers.

    "What was pleasing tonight in such an intense atmosphere was the composure of my young players," Rodgers said.

    "Emre Can, at 21, was like a Rolls Royce at the back, he defended fantastically and his quality on the ball was very, very good and young Jordan Ibe and the rest showed great composure."