'Fake' table a frustrating affair, says mad Jose Mourinho
Blues manager laments situation where teams vying for the title will not have played the same number of games until the final week of season
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho turned his ire on Premier League officials by slamming a "fake" table after his Blues returned to the summit with a 3-0 win at home to Stoke.
Victory, secured by goals from Mohamed Salah, Frank Lampard and Willian, saw Chelsea leapfrog Liverpool, who were to play West Ham overnight, into first place by a point.
It also left the London club two points in front of Manchester City but, significantly, Manuel Pellegrini's third-placed side have two games in hand over both Chelsea and Liverpool.
And that does not sit well with Mourinho, who believes it is wrong that the clubs vying for the title will not have played the same number of games until the final week of the season.
"The situation is the same. The table is again fake," Mourinho said. "The table is again with lots of matches in hand.
"You look to the top part of the table and, some teams, they have more matches than others.
"In the top of the league, we cannot say we need 'X' points to be champions.
"This, in the best league in the world, I don't think is the best image we are giving and it's not the best situation," the Portuguese added.
"To play matches in hand in the last week of the season, I don't think is adapted to this top football country."
Nevertheless Mourinho was happy with a win that set Chelsea up for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.
Chelsea face a tough task to remain among Europe's elite after a 3-1 first-leg loss in France, a reverse that followed a shock 1-0 defeat by Crystal Palace.
But Mourinho was pleased by the way the Blues bounced back against Stoke.
"It took us 10 or 15 minutes to recover a bit of confidence and self-esteem after two defeats," he said. "After that, the team played well.
"It is important because it is three points for the Premier League, but it is also important because it is one thing to start the match on Tuesday after another defeat and another to start after a victory."
Mourinho placed each of the goals Chelsea conceded in Paris in the "avoidable" category, but the Stoke shutout was their eighth in a row at Stamford Bridge.
"If we concede one goal against Paris or keep a clean sheet we have a chance for success," he added. "If we concede two goals and have to score five then we can't do the job. It is important to defend well against Paris."
Mourinho also had harsh words to say about his forwards after the first leg, claiming he didn't have any "true strikers" - a direct reference to the lack of scoring prowess of Fernando Torres and Demba Ba, neither of whom started against PSG.
Torres was recalled for the Stoke game, but made little impact. But Mourinho was careful only to offer words of encouragement to the Spain striker this time round.
"As always, he gave everything he could," he said. "He worked hard for the team. It was a pity he didn't score a goal because strikers need goals."
Stoke are not in any immediate danger of relegation as they have 40 points, but manager Mark Hughes, a former Chelsea striker, admitted he had expected more from his side.
"I was disappointed in what we produced," he said. "In recent weeks, we have been a lot better than that.
"For whatever reason, we didn't have enough players playing at their maximum. We weren't able to ask enough questions of a good Chelsea team."