AVB: League is more competitive
Andre Villas-Boas declared it would be harder for Chelsea to win the Barclays Premier League this season than it was when Jose Mourinho landed back-to-back titles at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues boss insisted he was not trying to downplay his former mentor's historic and record-breaking achievements but claimed the top of the table is far more competitive today than it was five years ago. The implication is should Chelsea finish as champions, it would represent an even greater achievement than they managed under Mourinho.
"It's much more competitive - not in the sense of taking the merit off what has been done in the past," said Villas-Boas, whose side have 19 points after eight matches, five fewer than Mourinho masterminded during Chelsea's perfect start to the 2005-06 season.
"The second Premier League title that Chelsea won, it was eight games, eight wins, and the (final) points total was a record. But more teams now look as if they are in title contention."
Although it is still very early in the season, there does appear to be some merit in Villas-Boas' claim. Nineteen points was enough for Chelsea to lead the table 12 months ago but this season they trail Manchester United by one point and Manchester City by three.
That will change on Sunday providing Villas-Boas' men win their London derby at QPR, which almost immediately follows the Manchester derby at Old Trafford. Three points would ensure Chelsea end the weekend at least level on points with whoever finishes the derby in second place.
Emphasising the importance of victory at Loftus Road, Villas-Boas said: "For us to profit, we need to get our own three points. I need those three points - desperately."
That is about as blunt a statement as you will ever hear from the new Chelsea manager, who nevertheless downplayed the significance of Sunday in the grand scheme of things.
"It's too early to be a real opportunity," he said. "If this had happened in April, it would have been, but not now.
"We were five points from United, and now we're a point away. Things have changed dramatically in recent weeks. But it's still not a pattern regarding how it will happen in the future."