November 5, 2017 / 8:15 PM / a year ago

Mourinho plays down significance of gap at the top

LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho downplayed the importance of the eight-point gap that Premier League leaders Manchester City hold over his side after a 1-0 loss at Chelsea on Sunday.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Chelsea vs Manchester United - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - November 5, 2017 Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho looks dejected REUTERS/Toby Melville

United’s second defeat of the season means the gap at the top is the biggest after 11 games in Premier League history following City’s 3-1 victory at home to Arsenal.

Alvaro Morata’s well-taken header was enough for Chelsea to win at Stamford Bridge, as United struggled to create enough openings of note to take anything from the match.

Despite the defeat, Mourinho stressed there was still a long way to go in the season and much can change, while believing his side deserved a draw for their efforts in west London.

“We are worried, but there are 18 teams more worried than us because we are second,” Mourinho said.

“Eight points in the Premier League is not the same in Portugal, La Liga or the Bundesliga. Yes, it is eight points but there is still a lot of play (to come).

“I hope, feel, think and wish that in the busy period at the end of November, December and January, we’re going to be at maximum strength with (Paul) Pogba, (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic and (Marcus) Rojo back (from injury).

“The team that scores first probably wins because both teams are very good defensively. They scored before us. Then they were in a more uncomfortable position.

“The team suffered emotionally after the goal. We had the chances to equalise, which would have been a fair result. One goal, three points, congratulations.”

United striker Romelu Lukaku endured another frustrating afternoon. The Belgium international did not manage a single touch of the ball in the Chelsea penalty area as his run of games without a goal stretched to seven in all competitions.

“I don’t want to talk about stats,” Mourinho said.

“On the bench its a different perspective. I am happy with his (Lukaku’s) effort, attitude and desire. He had a chance with a good shot, the keeper saved.

“He gave space for (Anthony) Martial and (Marcus) Rashford in the closing stages. I’m happy and don’t want to go in the direction of stats,” he added.

Reporting by Pete Hall; Editing by Ken Ferris

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