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Mourinho: City win can seal Blues' Euro place

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CHELSEA manager Jose Mourinho favours a Manchester City win at Tottenham tonight in a result which he believes would make his own team almost certainties for Champions League qualification this season.

Should Chelsea beat West Ham at Stamford Bridge and City win at White Hart Lane, Mourinho's third-placed squad will be 10 points clear of Spurs, who are challenging Liverpool, Everton and Manchester United in the battle to compete in Europe's elite competition next term.

Chelsea have narrowly clung on to their Champions League status in recent seasons, finishing sixth in the Premier League in 2012 and gaining a reprieve by winning the European Cup before, a year later, being certain of their qualification only after a final-day victory over Everton.

Even though Chelsea's next opponents are City, on February 3, Mourinho would like Manuel Pellegrini's team to prevail at Spurs.

 

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"I prefer them to win because, if they win and if we win, we open a gap to Tottenham," Mourinho said.

"If we have a gap of 10 to Tottenham, 12 to United, you have a safe spot in the Champions League.

"If you can have a safe spot by February and play the rest of the season without that pressure, it would be fantastic for us."

Champions League qualification is Mourinho's primary target on his return after again playing down his side's title prospects.

"That's an objective I don't want to fail," he added.

"We cannot fail because, as a club, we need that and, as a team, we need that too because we want to play Champions League.

"As a team, it's very important for the evolution of the team, as a club it's very important for financial reasons, for prestigious reasons.

"The top four, if possible the top three, is the big, big, big objective and it's a difficult objective.

"If everybody is there, you go to the end of the season under big pressure, so for us it will be better for City to win."

Put to him that he was beginning to sound like Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who has spoken of the importance of Champions League qualification amid his side's near nine-year run without a trophy, Mourinho's response was curt.

He added: "It's not a trophy. It's a moment of the evolution of this team. Next season, I will be speaking differently."

Mourinho and Wenger have had a to-and-fro argument over fixtures of late, with the Portuguese insisting Arsenal always have the better deal.

It is something Mourinho believes was enforced when the March fixtures showed Chelsea playing Arsenal on Saturday, March 22 at the end of a fallow midweek for the Gunners, while the Blues will have met Galatasaray in the Champions League.

Mourinho believes long-term success for Chelsea is dependent on players such as Eden Hazard (below), who recently spoke of his desire to be one of the world's best players alongside Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi of Barcelona.

"If he wants to be a great, great player and arrive where Cristiano and Messi arrive, he has space to go because he's 23," Mourinho said.

"It's a great ambition for him. What I feel now with him is responsibility in every aspect."


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