Mourinho hopes City's 'luck' finally runs out
Chelsea manager snipes at title rivals ahead of showdown at the top, claiming Pellegrini's team have benefited from refereeing mistakes
Manchester City's status as Premier League title favourites will pass beneath an unforgiving microscope on Monday night when Jose Mourinho's Chelsea travel north for a seismic clash at the Etihad Stadium.
City moved to the top of the table after crushing Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 last Wednesday and, having already plundered 115 goals in all competitions this season, they are widely seen as the country's outstanding team.
With a run of five consecutive league victories, Chelsea had been keeping pace, but a frustrating 0-0 draw at home to West Ham United in midweek saw them fall three points behind their rivals.
Mourinho has lauded City as clear title favourites in recent weeks, but with Monday night's match drawing closer, he started to fire off some characteristically pernicious barbs.
The Chelsea manager dismissed Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood's claim that City were the best team on the planet and went on to allege that Manuel Pellegrini's side were benefiting from favourable officiating.
Spurs, Newcastle United and Liverpool have all had goals disallowed for offside in recent losses to City and Mourinho said: "They are lucky. The reality is they have many crucial decisions in their favour.
"Against Liverpool, the [Raheem] Sterling 'goal'. The penalty on [Luis] Suarez [that was not given]. Against Newcastle the [Cheick Tiote] goal that is a clear goal.
"Against Tottenham, [Michael] Dawson's goal, the penalty, the [Danny Rose] red card. They are having everything. I repeat, because I don't want to be misinterpreted - [it is] just pure coincidence.
"The referees, they try to do their best and sometimes they make mistakes and normally during the season the mistakes are split between teams. In their [City's] case, they have everything in their favour."
While Mourinho has repeatedly drawn a distinction between his supposedly embryonic team and Pellegrini's "finished product", Chelsea beat City 2-1 when they met at Stamford Bridge in October.
City are a vastly different prospect on home turf, however, having won all 11 of their league matches at the Etihad, where they score goals at a rate of close to four per game.
Manchester United, Everton, Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool are among the teams to have been ruthlessly dispatched in front of City's fans, for an aggregate winning margin of 21-6.
While Mourinho's tactics tend to be more cautious, Pellegrini refuses to criticise the approach taken by the man who succeeded him as manager of Real Madrid in 2010.
"I don't know which way Chelsea will play on Monday," said the Chilean. "They have a style of play. Maybe it's not the same style that I like, but everyone can play the way they want.
"I never criticise what other teams do. I think it is very important for every team to resolve the problem that they have every match."