Jose Mourinho Is Playing Mind Games: Chelsea Are a Big Premier League Horse

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2014

AP Images

Give Jose Mourinho credit—his ambition knows no bounds.

Not content with proving his tactical genius after defeating Manchester City 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Monday, the Chelsea manager is now trying to prove his worth as a prankster.

"The title race is between two horses and a little horse that needs milk and needs to learn how to jump," he said in his post-match press conference after the City game, reported by BBC Sport. "Maybe next season we can race."

Who is Mourinho kidding? Chelsea aren't the mere colts he likes to make out, they're thoroughbreds and have just as much chance as their rivals of racing clear to the Premier League title.

Clint Hughes/Associated Press

While City have been busy blitzing their opponents and Arsenal are enjoying their most promising season for a while, the Blues have gone quietly about their business this term.

Without ever grabbing too much attention with their performances, Chelsea are now firmly in the mix.

Mourinho's side are level on points with City, just two behind Arsenal, who they face at Stamford Bridge on March 22.

The Blues remain undefeated against any of last season's top four, taking a point at Emirates Stadium shortly before Christmas, drawing with Manchester United early on in the campaign before a convincing 3-1 victory over the champions last month.

Clint Hughes/Associated Press

If that result in January confirmed United's plight, Chelsea's win over City this week reaffirms the Blues' title credentials.

There was nothing naive or juvenile about Chelsea's performance at the Etihad. They blew City away, outwitting Pellegrini's men tactically and with their application.

Indeed, Mourinho said so himself.

"[The players] played with fantastic spirit in the way I was trying to explain, but you can never tell how things will go," he had told Sky Sports at the final whistle.

It was confirmation that this team is beginning to implement their manager's instructions, carrying his vision onto the pitch.

Jon Super/Associated Press

It was the ultimate acid test—and they passed.

Mourinho wasn't sure if they could do it against City, just like the wider football public wasn't sure if Chelsea could win the title. Both questions have been answered emphatically.

If this is a Chelsea team not yet ready to lift silverware, Arsene Wenger et al. must be having sleepless nights considering a Chelsea team that is.

From being inconsistent, leaking goals and giving away cheap points, Chelsea have not lost in the league since Dec. 7 when Stoke City claimed an unlikely three points at Britannia Stadium.

Mourinho bemoaned his team's lack of a killer instinct that day. He cut a frustrated figure. Not anymore.

Concerns remain over Chelsea's firepower up front, yet outside of that, January proved a very productive month in the transfer market.

Nemanja Matic's performance against City showed what an excellent investment he is and with Mohamed Salah added to Mourinho's attacking midfield options, Chelsea suddenly look more balanced.

The Blues have kept eight clean sheets in their last 10 outings in all competitions, also.

It all points to one thing, so forget Mourinho's claims on the contrary. This Chelsea team isn't cantering, it's galloping its way to the Premier League crown.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes