Jose Mourinho insists Chelsea's English Premier League title prospects rest in the hands of rivals Arsenal and Manchester City. Mourinho's side boosted their chances with Monday's impressive 1-0 victory over Manuel Pellegrini's City side at the Etihad Stadium.
But the manager maintains his team remains the weakest of the three main contenders for the championship because they are still a work in progress during the Portuguese's first season back at the club. And Mourinho claims Chelsea remain in contention largely because of the failings of the top two.
"I'm not saying we're not going to win. I'm saying we're not candidates. We're outsiders," Mourinho said. "We're playing in our own league, to try and improve, against ourselves. To try and get the best result against our opponents. We're not a squad like City's, where players are in the best moment of their careers, an age of stability between 24, 25, 26 and their 30s, all of them working together for quite a long time, a manager who arrived and the team was ready for him.
"Arsenal are the biggest example of stability, the biggest example of a manager working with players year after year, working with these guys since they were really young players: Aaron Ramsey, Bacary Sagna, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere. All working with the manager for a long time.
"We are different. We are beginning. On the first day of the next pre-season, I will say yes we are there, and we accept that people consider Chelsea as candidates. Today, no. We are there because we're doing very well, or because Man City or Arsenal are not doing as well as they should with the condition they have.
"We don't put ourselves at the same level as them," Mourinho continued. "Do we dream about winning the Premier League? Of course. If not, we wouldn't play. Do we want to be there and win the next game against Newcastle? Of course. But we have not the same responsibilities (as City and Arsenal), that's for sure."
The visit of Newcastle United to Stamford Bridge on Saturday presents Mourinho's team with the chance to avenge a 2-0 defeat at St James' Park earlier in the season. The manager believes his side have progressed since that loss in early November and said: "I think we are improving. I think we are getting much better results.
"But the game is the game, and I don't know what is going to happen. I think the team is ready, wants to win, is well prepared. They're enjoying being where they are. Last season they were outside every possible race, and struggling to get a top four position to play Champions League. People are enjoying it, and that's what I want them to do."
Mourinho will not rush Fernando Torres back into the starting line-up despite the striker returning to training this week after a knee ligament injury.
"Fernando is almost there, but not there," Mourinho said. "If it was the last game of the season, I would say 'let's go and do it'. But there are lots of matches to play, so it's not right to risk now. You could lose him for a long time. So we won't take risks. Tuesday (against West Bromwich Albion) is a better possibility."