Mourinho hails Chelsea, Arsenal eyes summit

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Chelsea’s Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard (right) and Chelsea’s Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas run during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane in north London on Monday. AFP PHOTO

Chelsea’s Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard (right) and Chelsea’s Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas run during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane in north London on Monday. AFP PHOTO

LONDON: Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho declared that the Premier League champions had produced their best performance of the campaign after they drew 0-0 at in-form Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (Monday in Manila).

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Chelsea have had little to shout about of late and although the result served only to move them up to 14th place in the standings, Mourinho, who dropped misfiring striker Diego Costa, was encouraged by what he saw.

“It was the best Chelsea performance of the season, against a dangerous team,” said the Portuguese, who saw Eden Hazard impress in an unfamiliar role as a lone striker.

“My players did everything to try and interpret my defensive ideas with the ball. I am more than happy with the performance. I am happy with the team collectively.”

With Hazard leading the line, Costa was left to stew on the bench and the Brazil-born Spain international made his annoyance clear towards the end of the game when he tore off his bib and tossed it towards Mourinho.

But Mourinho played down the incident, saying: “If he wants to hurt me, it’s not with a bib. I have a good relationship with him, no problems.”

Spurs went closest in the first half, Son Heung-Min forcing Asmir Begovic into action with a firm header, while Hazard drew a fine stop from Hugo Lloris in the second period with a thunderous left-foot volley.

The result extended Spurs’ unbeaten run to 13 Premier League games, but they squandered an opportunity to break into the top four.

“They did not do much to win the game. We deserved more. We tried to win it,” said Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino.

“I think Chelsea will be happy with the point. It is more important to them than us.”

The result left Tottenham a point below fourth-place Arsenal, who can draw level on points with leaders Manchester City if they win at Norwich City later on Sunday.

Liverpool, meanwhile, will climb to sixth if they win at home to Swansea, whose manager Garry Monk is in the spotlight after a return of one win in nine league games.

West Ham United are now without a win in four league games following a 1-1 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion.

Mauro Zarate put the hosts ahead in the 17th minute with a pinpoint free-kick, but West Brom equalised early in the second half when substitute Rickie Lambert’s shot deflected in off Winston Reid for an own goal.

AFP

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