Man United's Jose Mourinho: Defensive Chelsea tough to catch
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has told Sky Sports it will be "very difficult" to catch Chelsea this season as they are unlikely to drop many points due to their defensive tactics.
Mourinho once had a reputation for playing defensive football but he has instilled a more positive, attacking style into United this season.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have been efficiently churning out clean sheets in recent months -- including three 1-0 wins in a row in the Premier League from their last three games -- and are first in the table, 13 points clear of United.
When asked if sixth-placed United can still push for the title, Mourinho said: "You have to be honest and say that is very difficult. It's not just the difference in points, it's also the Chelsea philosophy of playing.
"They score one goal and they win. They defend a lot. They defend well. They are winning and, in the last 20 minutes, they bring defenders in.
"They don't care what people say, what people think. They just want to win. And, because of that, I don't see them losing many points."
Mourinho also reflected on his dismissal for kicking a water bottle during the 1-1 home draw against West Ham United on Nov. 27, leading to a touchline ban. On the day of the incident, the United manager had not spoken about the incident, sending his assistant Rui Faria to the postmatch news conference instead.
He said: "First of all, it was a rubber bottle. Secondly, I am not so powerful to kick the bottle and the bottle kills somebody in the stands.
"But I know that I can't do that. When [Anthony] Taylor and [Jonathan] Moss [the officials who dismissed Mourinho] came to me, I didn't even complain. I just apologised and I walked away. I know that there is nothing to complain about."
Mourinho also denied that there is unhappiness within his squad about the decision to schedule an afternoon training session on Christmas Day.
The Portuguese said: "We have to train. We play on the 26th [at home against Sunderland], so we have to train on the 25th -- in my idea, and for my staff, it is the correct thing to do.
"The players know it is the correct thing to do. It's not true that everybody is upset with it. It's not true that everyone that works at Old Trafford is very upset with me.
"We come just by ourselves -- a couple of people just to support our light training session -- and then we go to the hotel and we prepare for the Sunderland match."
Looking ahead to the next calendar year, he added: "2017 will be better than 2016. I think we are really together. There is a sense of unity between us and the fans. I'm loving a lot that feeling."
Arindam is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @ARejSport.