Sunday, December 24, 2006


Mourinho vows Chelsea will catch United

Jose Mourinho warned Manchester United that Chelsea will come good in the second half of the season after admitting his team were "lucky" to claim a 3-2 win at Wigan.

Arjen Robben's injury-time winner secured victory for the reigning champions after two goals from Emile Heskey had cancelled out first-half strikes by Frank Lampard and Salomon Kalou.

The Dutch international's goal ensured that second-placed Chelsea go into their home clash against Reading on Tuesday just two points behind United at the top of the table.

Mourinho insists it will be his team who will be alone at the summit come the end of the season in May.

"I have no idea if I promised that Chelsea would be top of the league at Christmas," he said after United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had chided him for the comment after the leaders' 3-0 win away to Aston Villa earlier Saturday.

"But the difference is just two points.

"Man Utd are top after having no injuries, no suspensions and no referees like the one we had at Tottenham. It has all been good for them.

"But we have still got the points, even though we don't have the best goalkeeper in the world, we have no John Terry, no Joe Cole.

"We have had suspensions, red cards and bad decisions against us, but we are just two points behind.

"In the second half of the season, let's see where we end up.

"Last season, United had their problems with injuries to (Ryan) Giggs, (Paul) Scholes, (Wayne) Rooney and they were 13, 14, 15 points behind us at Christmas. They came back in the second part of the season, but the gap was too big for them, but our gap is just two points."

Wigan were hugely unlucky to lose the game after clawing themselves level and Mourinho criticised his players for their failure to wrap up victory sooner.

"We don't deserve to win the points. When you have an easy game, you should kill it off, but we let Wigan come back into it," said the Chelsea boss.

"At 2-0, it should have been easy because we were in complete control, but we gave them a chance and they attacked dynamically and deserved to score.

"We scored in the last minute, but we could have lost a big, big chance in what should have been an easy game."

Robben's late winner was the second time in successive seasons that Chelsea have scored an injury-time goal to win at the JJB Stadium and dejected Wigan manager Paul Jewell admitted he was devastated to lose.

"We showed great character to come back into the game," said Jewell. "At 2-0 down, I would have taken a 3-2 defeat, but having come back it is so frustrating to lose.

"We looked edgy in the first-half, but we scored at the right time and got ourselves back into it.

"That's the second time that Chelsea have beaten us with a late goal, though, and the same has happened to us against United and Arsenal.

"Great teams do that, but I don't want people to say that we have been unlucky because unlucky teams get relegated.

"We now go to Old Trafford on Boxing Day (December 26), but it's a great stadium to go to and I would rather go there than anywhere else, so don't feel sorry for me."

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