Jose Mourinho was full of praise for his sides battling performance away at West Ham United on Wednesday, as Chelsea returned from their trip across the capital with all three points thanks to a hard-fought victory in east London.
[ RELATED: Chelsea beat Hammers ]
Eden Hazard’s first half header was enough to maintain the Blues’ three-point lead at the summit of the Premier League table, but they were put under severe pressure by a typically direct West Ham side at Upton Park.
Speaking to the media after the match, Mourinho was delighted his boys didn’t succumb to intense pressure just a few days after an winning an intense League Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
“The way they play, nobody is better than them,” Mourinho said of West Ham. “They are the best at the way they play. It is not just to play football, the pressure, the tension and the emotion, my players were fantastic. We couldn’t kill the game and these three points are massive for us. I told the referee is it very difficult to be a ref here, because of the style of their game. Lots of long balls. West Ham had lots of balls in the box, very difficult, very intense and really difficult for the referee.”
Mourinho then hailed Hazard and called the Belgian wingers display “fantastic” before reflecting on a total team performance which keeps the Blues on course to win their first Premier League title since 2010.
“My team were brothers on the pitch and that is important if you are to win the most difficult league in the world,” Mourinho said. “I want to sleep tomorrow until midday. Today easily you lose two points.”
With 11 games to go, Chelsea now have a five-point lead over second-placed Manchester City and have a game in hand over the reigning champions which could see them extend their advantage to eight-points.
If Mourinho does succeed in his quest to bring the 2014-15 PL title to west London, at the end of the season he may well look back to crucial wins like this as a critical factor. On a boisterous night where meaty challenges flew in and Thibaut Courtois came up big with several huge saves, Chelsea once again showed they are capable of grinding out wins when they are not at their best.
That’s a clear sign of a Mourinho side. That’s a clear sign of champions.