Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho turned his ire on Premier League officials by denouncing a “fake” league table after his side returned to the summit with a 3-0 win at home to Stoke City on Saturday.
The victory was secured by goals from Mohamed Salah, Frank Lampard and Willian, and saw Chelsea leapfrog Liverpool into first place by a point ahead of the Reds’ tie yesterday against West Ham United.
It also left the Blues two points in front of Manchester City but — significantly — Manuel Pellegrini’s third-placed side will have two games in hand over Chelsea and Liverpool after the weekend. That does not sit well with Mourinho, who said it is wrong that the clubs vying for the title will not have played the same number of games until the last week of the season.
“The situation is the same. The table is again fake,” Mourinho said. “The table is again with lots of matches in hand.”
“In the top of the league we cannot say we need ‘X’ points to be champions. This, in the best league in the world, I don’t think is the best image we are giving and it’s not the best situation,” he added.
Nevertheless, the self-proclaimed “Special One” was happy with Saturday’s win, which boosted Chelsea ahead of the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.
Chelsea face a tough task after a 3-1 first-leg loss in France, a reverse that followed a shock 1-0 defeat by Crystal Palace, but Mourinho was pleased by the way his side bounced back against Stoke.
“It took us 10 or 15 minutes to recover a little bit of confidence and self-esteem after two defeats,” he said. “After that, the team played well.”
Mourinho had harsh words for his forwards after the first leg against PSG, saying he did not have any “true strikers” — a direct reference to the lack of scoring prowess of Fernando Torres and Demba Ba, neither of whom started in Paris.
Torres was recalled for the Stoke game, but made little impact. Nevertheless, Mourinho was careful to offer words of encouragement to the Spain striker this time round.
“As always, he gave everything he could,” the Chelsea boss said.
Stoke are not in immediate danger of relegation as they have 40 points, but manager Mark Hughes, a former Chelsea striker, said he had expected more from his side.
“I was disappointed in what we produced. In recent weeks we have been a lot better than that,” he said.
Elsewhere in the Premier League on Saturday, Manchester City’s Yaya Toure and Southampton’s Rickie Lambert both struck from the penalty spot before City’s Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko scored in the first half of stoppage-time to hand Manuel Pellegrini’s men a 3-1 win.
Controversy surrounded Nasri’s goal since David Silva, who played in the France midfielder, was offside when he received the ball.
Man City substitute Stevan Jovetic added a fourth in the 81st.
Defeat was made worse for the Saints when England striker Jay Rodriguez went off with a first-half knee injury that put a question mark on his chances of being picked in Roy Hodgson’s squad for the FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil.
“I don’t know how Jay Rodriguez is. It’s not looking good,” said Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino, who was furious at the decision to let Nasri’s goal stand, saying: “This action from the linesman for the second goal killed the game.”