The heat in the title race has been upped by Manchester City's Yaya Toure, who has taken a swipe at fellow Premier League challenger, Jose Mourinho.
David McDonnell from The Mirror reports the midfielder hit back at Mourinho, whom he accused of being disrespectful and talking too much.
McDonnell writes that Toure said to Marca after his club's Champions League game in Spain this week:
He is a coach and he must give respect a little bit. He is always talking about everyone and that is not the correct way. That is why Barcelona always beat Real Madrid when Mourinho was here. I think he talks more than before, perhaps because the English press likes it.
Chris Wheeler of the Daily Mail previously wrote that City manager Manuel Pellegrini had said of Mourinho last month:
I don’t think it’s the way to do it. I don’t talk about other teams, whether the FA should suspend players from other teams or whether the referee has given bad decisions for the other teams.
Mourinho is known for his mind games. He recently commented directly about Toure regarding an off-the-ball incident at Norwich in February, for which the Ivorian was not subsequently punished, per Martyn Ziegler's article in The Independent.
The Special One had said, per Ziegler's report:
If he is not suspended, the message is clear: the players can do what they want if the referee doesn't see. If there's no suspension, the message is normally that, if the FA defends football, he'd have to be suspended.
It seems apparent that Toure has remembered these comments from last month.
Darren Lewis of The Mirror claimed at the time that Mourinho has an agenda by commenting on such issues:
Toure's reaction could mean that he has fallen foul to the same mind games that Mourinho loves to play with opponents. The Chelsea manager does indeed have an agenda, and that is to get under the skin of anyone who can get in the way of his club being a success.
Toure is one of the driving forces behind City's title challenge, and it is no surprise that the Portuguese manager passed comment on him.
Has Yaya Toure fallen for Jose Mourinho's mind games?
Toure addressing Mourinho this week could be seen as sign of weakness. His team have three games in hand on Chelsea and the focus should be on closing the gap on their rivals, rather than the demeanour and approach of man who courts controversy.
But it is once again a masterstroke played by Mourinho to have others thinking and commenting about him. It deflects the pressure off his players just at the right time of the season. He is brilliant at this tactic and does this as well as Sir Alex Ferguson ever did at Manchester United.