Jose Mourinho has consistently stated he believes six clubs are genuine title challengers this season, and nothing that happened before the transfer window closed has changed his mind.
In general, the Chelsea manager rates the other top clubs as stronger than last season. Manchester United kept together the player that won the championship and added Marouane Fellaini, a player who knows the requirements of the league and David Moyes well.
Last season’s runners-up, Manchester City, have supplemented an already impressive group of players with new names who are at the peak of their careers rather than works in progress, and Liverpool can only benefit from three wins out of three so far.
‘Brendan [Rodgers] did his work well with what he has at his disposal,’ Mourinho says, ‘and a good start is always a good start.
‘A good start is always very motivational, it wakes up the people around the club and creates something buzzing around, so it is very important for them.
‘Tottenham of course lost the player of the year but they bought incredibly. They spent a lot of money and despite losing a player like Gareth Bale, they have two teams.’
It was Arsenal who at the last moment made English football’s big signing with the transfer of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid, a player Mourinho knows well, but he already ranked the Gunners as potential champions.
‘You look at their players and Theo Walcott is not a 17-year-old boy anymore. Jack Wilshere is a starting player for England. Santi Cazorla is a European champion. We are not speaking about that young team that we played at Cardiff in a Carling Cup final.
‘They are a team with top players and with the most experienced manager in the Premier League, so they were title contenders without Mesut.
‘When they lost the first match against Villa, I told people that defeat means nothing because they have a good team and after that, they started winning matches and some of them very difficult ones, butMesut Ozil is a fantastic player so they are better.
‘My squad is a very good squad too. I have solutions for every position with a good balance between the experienced players and the young boys with great quality to develop.
‘So I think we can have a great Premier League when speaking about the contenders, but of course the other 14 teams are very important for this league and they will decide a lot of things, because it is with them that we win and we lose points, and it is with them that matches become great or not so great.’
Chelsea made an offer for Wayne Rooney this summer but no transfer materialised and by and large the leading clubs have not purchased English players. Mourinho has a suggestion why.
‘It can be for different reasons but financially the situation is not simple,’ he says.
‘I like a young English player, and the market is closed but I asked a question to understand a little the position where he is in the market. We are speaking about a very young player and it is like he has 50 caps when he has zero caps. The price for English players is very high, the market is very difficult.’
That, Mourinho believes, is due to the financial stability of clubs in England compared with some elsewhere, including big outfits in economic difficulties who are not in a position to resist offers for their players.
‘It is a healthy situation for English clubs and from that point of view it is good,’ he adds.
Now the identity of his squad is fixed, it is a straight-forward case of getting the best out of the group of players and winning matches.
‘I don’t know if I keep them happy or not, but I am happy because I have so many good players and I will let them speak on the pitch,’ Mourinho explains.
‘I will judge them on the pitch. I will not judge them on words, not on interviews, not on agents or parents or friends commenting in the press or Twitter or anything like that.
‘I will let football speak and I will let football decide, and if one guy is the man of the match, he has to play the next match.’