Jose Mourinho believes this weekend has seen a third team enter the race for the Premier League title, as the top two both dropped points.
When champions Manchester City fell to a surprise 1-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Burnley on Saturday evening, it presented Chelsea with the chance to move eight points clear at the head of the table with a game in hand. However, despite taking the lead when Diego Costa scored a 19th league goal of the season, Southampton were good value for a 1-1 draw at the Bridge.
This means Mourinho’s side are six points clear of Manuel Pellegrini’s outfit, and they also still have that extra game to play which is against bottom-placed Leicester City. But Mourinho believes a third side are now also in contention for the Premier League title, after Arsenal maintained their recent good form with a 3-0 win over West Ham United to move within seven points of the top.
“We had a lead of five points from second, and now it’s six points with one less match to play,” Mourinho commented after his side were held by the Saints. “And of course [Arsenal are in contention in the title race]. [They are] seven points behind Chelsea, and one less match to play than Chelsea. I keep thinking our opposition is better than theirs … both teams are in the race.”
The Gunners have won eight of their last 10 Premier League fixtures, and although they are as long as 25/1 at some bookmakers they will hope to keep up their run of results ahead of Chelsea’s visit to the Emirates Stadium at the end of April. In the meantime, they travel to France this week to take on Monaco hoping to overturn a 3-1 UEFA Champions League deficit from the first leg.
It is a huge task for Arsene Wenger and his players, but they will at least arrive in the principality in high spirits having also reached the last four of the FA Cup after winning at Manchester United last week. Aaron Ramsey has revealed his opinion that he and his team-mates must attack from the first whistle on Wednesday evening if they are to produce a memorable result and progress to the quarter-finals.
“We will go there and try to score three or more goals and hopefully not concede any, that is our target and is how we will approach it,” he said. “We had a sloppy first leg and we have made it quite difficult for ourselves, but it is not over yet. We are more than capable of scoring three goals. We scored three on Saturday and we believe in ourselves. So we will go into the game believing we can achieve that.”