Jose Mourinho has moved to dissolve some of the pressure on his own Chelsea team in terms of winning this season's Premier League title after claiming Manchester City should be the club looked upon as favourites.
The Blues' stock rose significantly when it was announced this summer that the former Stamford Bridge hero would be returning to his old stomping ground.
Regardless, Mourinho believes Manuel Pellegrini's men have a "responsibility" to claim the 2013/14 title, quoted by the Daily Star's Adrian Kajumba as saying:
I keep saying that the team with more responsibilities to win it, because their squad is quite unique, is Manchester City. I mean the quality and profile of the players, the experience of the players, and the medium age.
They don’t have old players or very young players. You see all of them, players with big maturity and experience. Aguero, Dzeko, Negredo, even Jovetic... these are the four strikers.
City's spending since the Abu Dhabi takeover of 2008 has seen the Citizens build one of the most expensive squads in Europe, a roster that Mourinho is right to label as one having some burden in terms of expectations.
However, it's not just the attack that Mourinho claims is of the utmost quality, adding that the entire squad is full of it, per Kajumba's report:
Go through the positions and you see Yaya Toure, Fernandinho... nobody more than 30, all of them. The squad is amazing. The squad is absolutely amazing. They have solutions and solutions and solutions.
If you ask me which team has more ammunition, I have to try and be honest. I have to apologise to the other four contenders in case they’re not happy with what I say, but City are the team with more ammunition.
Irrespective of this "winning duty," City sit third in the league standings, six points behind leaders Arsenal, while Chelsea are two points closer to the top in second.
As Mourinho mentions, Pellegrini has at his disposal one of the fiercest attacking lineups in the world, with Transfermarkt.co.uk citing Aguero, Negredo, Dzeko and Jovetic as having a combined fee of more than £115 million. Pellegrini's men currently lead the goalscoring charts with 37 strikes in 13 league outings.
|Manchester City Striker Statistics 2013/14|
Chelsea's attack is almost as prestigious but has been formed at a fraction of the price. Only Fernando Torres was brought to Stamford Bridge for a substantial fee, while both Demba Ba and Samuel Eto'o came to the club as cut-price deals. As a result, they are the lowest scorers in the top four with 24 goals this term.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have one of the thriftiest attacking lines among the top four, having relied on Olivier Giroud for nearly the entire campaign to date. They've scored 27 times and are widely viewed as one of the best attacking units in the country.
Looking to the midfield, all three clubs have star-studded line-ups at their disposal, with Mesut Ozil, Oscar and Yaya Toure flying the flags as the talismans of Arsenal, Chelsea and City, respectively.
Again, however, it's the Gunners who are making the most of their money, with homegrown talent such as Jack Wilshere and the cash-friendly investments of Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta each playing their roles in the club's current wave of success.
Manchester City sit steeped in hefty expenditures, with Toure, Jesus Navas, David Silva, Fernandinho, Samir Nasri and even longer-term staples such as James Milner and Gareth Barry all costing the club at least £10 million apiece, some rising as high as £30 million.
When that type of money is spent, results are expected, so for the club to finally make the group stages of the Champions League this season shows some progression under Pellegrini.
Mourinho's envy is born out of the fact City's average age is much lower than that of Chelsea. The Blues boss must find a way to ease in a new era at Stamford Bridge, with the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole all in the twilight of their careers.
Mourinho is right to claim City's consistently high spending patterns should lead to silverware, but recent years have gone to show that money alone doesn't necessarily buy you a title.
Arsene Wenger's squad is benefitting from the hunger of youth, mixed with the familiarity that comes from spending years developing together. The Gunners have an identity that Mourinho is trying to restore at Chelsea.
Chelsea and Manchester City both arguably don't have the same unity and understanding that Wenger has fashioned at Arsenal, given the mass influx of new faces at the respective clubs in recent years, and that ultimately might prove the difference this season.