Cool Jose has champagne on ice

JOSE MOURINHO... No problems about who Chelsea's opponents are.-AP

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho insists he is not bothered where or when his side win the title. With three games left, the Blues are nine points clear of Manchester United — the opposition in their next league match. The `special one' says that the desire would be the same if the opponents were anybody else, writes Brian Lee.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has cemented his reputation as the coolest customer in the Barclays English Premier League by insisting he is not bothered where or when his side win the title. With three games left, the Blues are nine points clear of Manchester United — the opposition in their next league match. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is determined to make sure the champagne stays on ice just that little bit longer but Mourinho is keen to come across as chilled as the celebratory drinks.

"We are close, more than ever, but we are not there yet," he said. "I just want to be champions. Some people prefer to win it at home, some people prefer to win it away, but for me it is just enough to be champions. Our next game is against Manchester United and it is the match we want to win to be champions but if it was Blackburn or Newcastle, the desire would be the same — we just want to be champions. If the supporters want us to be champions at home then they will give us an extra push and maybe that extra push can take us to the silverware. The important thing is to finish the season in front of United. In the Premier League, the best team wins. It is about 10 months and 38 matches, it is not down to luck."

United's 2-1 win at Tottenham had already ensured the race would go on a bit longer before Chelsea cruised past Everton 3-0. Yet, despite another stylish performance from the Stamford Bridge outfit, which included midfielder Frank Lampard's 20th goal of the season, Ferguson is confident ahead of his side's trip to the capital on April 29.

"There are times when you have the title sewn up and there is a bit of complacency about the place," said the Scot. "It will be a fantastic game. We need to make that second spot. Hopefully we can achieve that. It keeps the fans interested and keeps everybody at the club interested and keeps the season bubbling away."

United hold a six-point advantage over third-placed Liverpool but the battle for fourth place and the final Champions League berth is a tighter affair.

Tottenham remain in the driving seat after the team's ill-tempered 1-1 draw against fifth-placed Arsenal at Highbury. Though Arsenal is four points behind, they have a game in hand. Tottenham took the lead in the North London derby through Robbie Keane, who was put through by Edgar Davids. Thierry Henry, who came on as a substitute in the second half, predictably scored the equaliser.

Henry, though, was happy to see his team rip apart West Brom the previous week without him scoring. Arsene Wenger admitted his side had one eye on their Champions League encounter with Villarreal as they went about dismantling West Brom, saying: "We know you do not play every day in a semifinal of the Champions League." Wenger hailed the contribution of Dennis Bergkamp after the veteran Dutchman came off the bench to help see off the Baggies 3-1. Alexander Hleb's late first-half strike had put the home side ahead, but Nigel Quashie smashed in a dramatic equaliser for the visitors with 18 minutes left. Bergkamp had just been introduced from the bench, much to the delight of the crowd — many of whom were wearing orange in honour of the long-serving striker. Fittingly, it was the 36-year-old who had a hand in setting up Robert Pires for Arsenal's second goal and then capped his day with a sublime effort from the edge of the box in the closing moments.

"It would be disrespectful to him to say `Dennis, I brought you on because it was your day'," the Arsenal manager said. "He wants to come on when he can add something to the team. We felt we needed his vision and someone who keeps good fluency. He made his day — he scored a great goal and was involved in the second goal as well. Dennis has intelligence and class. He is always ahead of the game and his technique allows him to do what he feels."

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