Chelsea’s Didier Drogba on title race: ‘I think the game is on’
Few thought the Chelsea juggernaut could be stopped this season, but Didier Drogba always expected the title race to go down to the wire.
The West Londoners started the campaign in astonishing form, leading many to declare them Premier League winners just weeks into the season.
After 11 matches, Chelsea boasted an eight-point cushion over Manchester City. That lead now stands at just three.
The gap would have been a single point had Manuel Pellegrini’s men not blown a two-goal lead to draw with Burnley and fans’ favourite Drogba insists complacency is not behind the difference being cut.
“I think it’s going to be tough,” Drogba said. “We knew it was not over.
“A few years ago, I think we were 11 or 12 points in front of Man United and then they won the league.
“So eight points or nine points – I don’t know how many points we had on top of Man City – I think it is not enough.
“At that time of the season, it was too early, but I think now we start again a new championship. I think the game is on.”
Chelsea will enter 2015 atop of the standings and were in the lead at Christmas – something which has proven a good omen in the past for Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese has won the league on all seven occasion his sides have been leading on December 25, but he suggests they would be in an even more comfortable position had Chelsea not been the victim of a diving campaign.
Mourinho went on that rant after being denied what he felt was a potentially match-defining penalty early in the second half of Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Southampton, when Cesc Fabregas went down under pressure from Matt Targett.
Instead of a spot-kick, however, referee Anthony Taylor deemed it a dive and booked the infuriated Spanish midfielder – part of a what Mourinho believes is a growing movement against his side.
“It’s difficult from the bench to see, but I think the referee was close enough,” Drogba said of the Fabregas incident.
“It’s his (the referee’s) opinion. I don’t know what to say.
“[Fabregas] said it was a penalty, so I believe him. But, you know, it was still 1-1.”
Asked if diving was something the players talk about between themselves or with the manager, Drogba retorted: “No. No. No. I think it is too much.
“Sometimes this kind of thing. I think it is a game, and the game is fast, so these kind of things can happen. But it’s not too much.”
Mourinho’s public comments about diving glossed over what was an at times ropey display at St Mary’s.
Chelsea dominated in the second period but Eden Hazard’s equaliser late in first-half stoppage time was the only shot on target they mustered all afternoon.
“I don’t know [what was missing],” Drogba said.
“I think for sure that playing 48 hours after the last game – maybe that affected the team.
“But I think that was the same for both teams. I don’t know.”
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Published: December 30, 2014 04:00 AM