Jose Mourinho defends his side’s tactics after Anfield raid
Chelsea boss still refusing to talk about title credentials
Frank Lampard (right) celebrates after Willian scored Chelsea’s second goal during the Premier League match against Liverpool at Anfield. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was unrepentant about his tactics at Liverpool as his team secured a 2-0 win over the Premier League leaders that blew open the title race.
The visitors successfully stifled Liverpool’s attacking flair with Mourinho’s side employing every trick in the book to slow down play but it more than paid off as the usually free-scoring Reds ran out of ideas.
“The best team won, in my opinion,” said Mourinho.
“Defensive display? I am a bit confused what the media thinks about defensive displays.
“When a team defends well you call it a defensive display. When a team defends badly and concedes two or three goals you don’t consider it a defensive display.
“When Liverpool started to put balls in the air for Mark (Schwarzer), (Gary) Cahill and (Branislav) Ivanovic they were like in fish in water because it was so easy for them.
“The team played brilliantly. Every player was magnificent. No mistakes. I think it was a fantastic performance by my players.
“I am not looking for credit. I am very happy with my players, they know how pleased I am with their work and that is what they need from me.
“Time-wasting. What’s that? You never spoke about this when we played lot of matches this season.”
The win moved Chelsea to two points behind Liverpool at the top of the table. Manchester City, with a match in hand, stand just a point further behind after their win at Crystal Palace, and have the superior goal difference.
It appears the title race will go down to the wire but Mourinho does not consider his team to be contenders.
“There is no chance. We were waiting for this match to be the title match (decider) for a long time but for some reason this match didn’t become the title match,” he added.
“It was three important points and we need one more to finish third and if we finish third we are in the Champions League automatically.
“A champion is only one team so we don’t want a trophy to finish third but we can say we won both matches against the champion as we won both against Liverpool and against City.”
Gerrard’s slip in possession just inside his own half that allowed Ba in to score proved the key moment of the match but Mourinho, who revealed captain John Terry has a chance of being fit for Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Atletico Madrid, took no pleasure in that.
“Nobody enjoys it when someone makes a big mistake,” Mourinho added.
“We enjoy it because it gave us a goal but no-one like someone to make a mistake in that situation.
“I prefer to say Demba Ba was fantastic in front of the goalkeeper.”
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers attached no blame to Gerrard for the error which proved so pivotal, and admitted Chelsea’s methods made his team’s task particularly difficult.
“Steven is a boy who has picked up this club so many times and it was just really unfortunate because he slipped at a crucial moment and it was right on half-time,” he said.
“He was doing everything he possibly could and we hoped there would be one or two who would step up to the plate instead of him, but we couldn’t quite do that today.
“There’s certainly no blame because we are in the position we are in now because of him; he’s been instrumental for us this season.
“It’s just unfortunate that he’s slipped over. It could have happened to anyone. This is a guy that is so strong mentally.
“He probably got frustrated but I thought he showed his courage because after that he still kept getting on the football, he still tried to pass; at times, he broke through and broke the line to get in.
“But he and our other attacking threats just couldn’t quite make the breakthrough. Give credit to Chelsea for that; they sat in really deep.”
On Chelsea’s approach, Rodgers added: “They have a different style to us but if it gets results, great. Jose will be happy with that.
“Congratulations to Chelsea as they won the game, although they came for a draw.
“It was difficult because Chelsea played with a back six – a back-four with the two wingers back in – and the midfield three in front and there were 10 players from the first minute behind the ball.
“It is totally opposite to how we want to play but give credit to them for winning the game.
“It is not difficult to coach, putting 10 players on the edge of the 18-yard box.
“They got booked for time-wasting in the 92nd minute but I think everyone could see from the first whistle that was their plan – to frustrate.”
City are probably the favourites for the title now but Rodgers is confident his side can bounce back from the end of an 11-match winning run and finish the season on a high.
“City will now feel they can go on and win their games,” Rodgers said. “We’ll just recover now, we’ll focus on the next game and continue with that positive mentality that we’ve had throughout the season, because that’s the reason why we are where we are.”