Jose Mourinho insisted he would prefer to be in Manchester City’s position in the Premier League title race, even after his Chelsea side moved seven points clear at the top with a 4-0 demolition of Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
The drubbing at Stamford Bridge took the Blues to 66 points, while Liverpool and Arsenal lie in joint second with 59 points each, but having played one game less.
City are two points further back, but have three games in hand on Chelsea and a superior goal-difference, prompting Mourinho to claim that the advantage in the battle for the league lies with Manuel Pellegrini’s team.
“I would like to be in their position. If they win the matches, they’re top of the league,” he said. “If City win the 12 matches they have, they’re champions. They have the destiny in their own hands. I would prefer to have destiny in my own hands. It doesn’t depend on us. It depends on them.”
The Portuguese did concede that his side had all but achieved their initial objective of guaranteeing a top-four finish after moving 13 points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham.
“The top four is for us to lose. We are 13 points from Tottenham and 15 from Man United and Everton,” he added. “This game could have reduced the gap to fifth to seven points, but at this moment it is 13 points and I really don’t believe we’ll lose that distance.”
Samuel Eto’o put Chelsea on their way with the 56th minute opening goal that he followed up with a celebration poking fun at off-the-record comments Mourinho made about the striker’s age.
After scoring the 300th goal of his career, the 32-year-old striker imitated an elderly person leaning on the corner flag in a gesture that Mourinho addressed after the game, saying: “I didn’t suggest [the celebration], but we knew it [was coming]. We knew it. We thought it was more than fine. The best way to diffuse the situation is to make fun of a funny situation, so it was good.”
Younes Kaboul’s foul on Eto’o earned the Tottenham defender a red card and allowed Eden Hazard to add a 59th minute second from the penalty spot. Substitute Demba Ba then capitalized on two defensive mistakes to score twice in the final two minutes of normal time.
Eto’o was only included in the starting line-up because Fernando Torres picked up a groin injury in the warm-up.
Spurs manager Tim Sherwood admitted his side’s chances of forcing their way into the top four were now “slim.”
“You can’t legislate for the capitulation — you can’t have that. Lack of characters, too many of them too nice to each other and you need to show a bit more guts and not want to be someone’s mate all the time,” an angry Sherwood said. “You won’t finish in the top four if you don’t beat top teams... The club talks about fourth, wake up.”
Elsewhere in the league, champions Manchester United rediscovered a touch of their old swagger, easing past struggling West Bromwich Albion 3-0 to record back-to-back league wins for the first time since December last year.
Phil Jones headed home a Robin van Persie free-kick in the first half, Wayne Rooney finished a sweeping passing move with a header after the break and Danny Welbeck added a third to inflict further misery on a woeful West Brom side.
West Brom stayed one place above the relegation zone, but level on points with Cardiff City, who beat bottom club Fulham 3-1 with two goals from Steven Caulker.