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Chelsea at a disadvantage in title race, says Mourinho

Newly reappointed Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho reacts during a news conference at Stamford Bridge stadium in London June 10, 2013. REUTERS/
Newly reappointed Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho reacts during a news conference at Stamford Bridge stadium in London June 10, 2013. REUTERS/

LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea's Premier League title rivals Manchester City and Liverpool enjoy a big advantage at the business end of the season because they are not involved in the Champions League, manager Jose Mourinho said.

Leaders Chelsea have seven Premier League games left, compared to nine for 2012 champions City, but face Paris St Germain in the Champions League quarter-finals with the first leg in Paris on Wednesday.

"We have the most difficult (run in) because we play Champions League - they don't. We have to play matches with two and three days in between," Mourinho told reporters on Friday ahead of Saturday's trip across London to face Crystal Palace (1500).

"We have to change our focus from the Premier League to the Champions League... play two big matches (against PSG).

"We have no time to prepare for matches like (City and Liverpool) they have. It's an advantage that City has now, an advantage that Liverpool have had since the beginning of the season."

Chelsea start the weekend programme a point ahead of Liverpool, who host Tottenham on Sunday (1600) and three ahead of City, who are away at fourth-placed Arsenal on Saturday evening (1730).

Mourinho said Liverpool, who they play at Anfield on April 27, had enjoyed the "perfect season" to emerge again as title aspirants.

"When you have six days a week to prepare, to train six days a week to train, maybe twice a day... you have conditions to improve that nobody has," he said.

"You can see clearly that some of their players are not paying the consequences of (fatigue) accumulation. You see freshness. The season for them is the perfect season to do what they are doing."

The Portuguese reiterated that Chelsea were in a false position at the summit.

"I do not lead the Premier League - I've said this for a long, long time.

"It's fake. When you have matches in hand you can lead but the situation is fake. It only matters when everybody has the same number of matches."

Striker Samuel Eto'o will miss the Palace game and is a big doubt for the away leg against PSG after suffering a hamstring injury in the 6-0 drubbing of Arsenal last weekend.

Defender Ashley Cole remains sidelined while midfielder Ramires is suspended.

Mourinho expects relegation battlers Palace to pose a "difficult" test at Selhurst Park but believes his side have been "playing well for a long long time".

"We crashed the hurdle against Aston Villa (a 1-0 defeat on March 15) and we lost but our run is magnificent.

"The team is getting results that make the fans very very happy. We are in a good moment, enjoying the situation. We want to play Champions League, to play against the best teams...we are fine."

(Reporting by Justin Palmer; editing by Alan Baldwin)

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