CHELSEA manager Jose Mourinho described his side as “the little horse” in the Premier League title race despite their impressive success over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Chelsea travelled to Manchester knowing defeat would leave them six points behind City, but they won 1-0 through Branislav Ivanovic’s first half strike to draw level on points with their rivals.
The two clubs now trail leaders Arsenal by two points with 14 matches of the season remaining, but Mourinho is insistent his team remain a work in progress.
Asked if the duel for the title was a three-horse race, he replied: “Two horses and a little horse, that still needs milk and to learn how to jump. A horse that next season can race.”
When it was put to him that Chelsea at the very least stood a chance of winning the league, he replied: “I don’t agree.
“We lost points at home against West Brom, against West Ham, we lost at Stoke, we lost at Newcastle.
“We are a team in evolution, but this is the kind of performance that helps the team to grow up a lot. Tactically, mentally, I think it was fantastic.”
City had won all 11 of their previous home games in the league, scoring 42 goals, and had won 17 of their 18 matches at the Etihad in all competitions, losing only to European champions Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
City’s preparations were upset by the loss of Brazilian holding midfielder Fernandinho to injury, with Argentine centreback Martin Demichelis proving an unsteady replacement.
The hosts were also without midfielders Samir Nasri and Javi Garcia and top scorer Sergio Aguero due to injury, and manager Manuel Pellegrini felt that their absences were telling.
“Of course, (Fernandinho) is a very important player for us,” he said.
“Not only Fernandinho; you must add Samir Nasri, Aguero, Javi Garcia, because (if) Fernandinho can’t play, Javi Garcia can play in his position.
“(James) Milner was not 100 percent, neither was Alvaro Negredo. And it’s too much advantage for a team as important as Chelsea.”