Manuel Pellegrini remains hopeful as Jose Mourinho sulks
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho kept his thoughts to himself after his side consolidated their position atop the Premier League with a 1-1 home draw against nearest rivals Manchester City.
London: Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho kept his thoughts to himself after his side consolidated their position atop the Premier League with a 1-1 home draw against nearest rivals Manchester City.
Aggrieved by striker Diego Costa`s three-game ban for treading on Liverpool`s Emre Can -- an incident he felt was unfairly amplified by the media -- Mourinho has imposed a personal press blackout at Stamford Bridge.
Having cancelled his weekly press conference on Friday, he refused to speak on television either before or after Saturday`s game, while in contravention of Premier League rules, reporters attending his post-match press conference were greeted by the sight of an empty blue chair.
The Portuguese appears to be attempting to create a siege mentality at Chelsea and while his no-show drew scorn from fans on social media, it is a tactic that does not appear to have done his players any harm.
Saturday`s draw, in which City midfielder David Silva cancelled out Loic Remy`s opener, left Chelsea five points above City, the defending champions, with 15 matches of the season remaining.
City captain Vincent Kompany claimed afterwards that "five points is nothing", but although an eight-point lead would have seemed insurmountable, his side still remain dependent on Chelsea faltering.
Visiting manager Manuel Pellegrini sent on strikers Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic, as well as former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, in the closing stages as City went in search of the goal that would have taken them to within two points of the summit.
But although the Chilean admitted he was "not happy" with a point, he declared that there was plenty of time for his side to engineer a repeat of their surge to the title last season.
"Of course it was important to try to close the gap," Pellegrini told reporters during his own press conference.
"We tried, but we couldn`t. We still have 45 points more to play (for). I said before the game also that this was a very important game, (but) it was not a final.
"So we have time to try to recover those five points. In the way we continue playing, the way we did today (Saturday), I think it will be more easy."Silva`s 45th-minute equaliser stemmed from an error by usually unflappable Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who came for Jesus Navas`s right-wing cross and missed the ball completely.
Sergio Aguero`s drilled follow-up looked to be flying wide of the right-hand post, but Silva flew in to stab it home.
Remy, deputising for the suspended Costa, had put Chelsea ahead four minutes earlier, tapping in from close range after Branislav Ivanovic`s deep cross was volleyed back across goal by Eden Hazard.
Chelsea mustered only three attempts at goal, the fewest by a home team in the English top flight this season and their lowest total in a Premier League game since the 2003-04 campaign.
But although Pellegrini felt that his side had done more to win the game, he stopped short of saying Chelsea had played for a draw.
"I don`t know what happened with Chelsea," he said. "I think that from the first minute, we came for the three points.
"We made some changes to continue trying to create space against a team who defend very well very near their box, that is very dangerous also on the counter-attack, so we cannot just think (about) attacking.
"That was the most important thing, although they didn`t have any chance to have the fast counter-attack that they always do.
"I`m not saying Chelsea played for a draw. I`m saying our team played to win."
Mourinho`s decision to duck his press conference meant that there was no news about the condition of Chelsea`s Brazilian midfielder Willian, who was forced off by injury in the latter stages.