Manchester United star Juan Mata feels his former club Chelsea should still be considered contenders for the Premier League title.
Jose Mourinho has admitted the champions will struggle to retain their title after a start to the season that has seen them pick up just eight points from as many games, the Chelsea boss insisting a top-four finish has become their priority.
Mata, though, does not think the west Londoners should be discounted from the race to win the trophy when they still have so much time to recover their form.
“Chelsea are in an unusual situation,” the 27-year-old, who swapped Stamford Bridge for Old Trafford in January 2014, told Onda Cero.
“It is somewhat circumstantial and I do not think it will go on for an extended period of time. They do not have a squad that should have them in that position in the Premier League.
“We have seen the gap of 10 points arrive in two months and I think Chelsea will come out of that situation quickly. In fact, I do not rule them out of the title fight.”
Mata spent two-and-a-half seasons with the Blues prior to joining United and said Mourinho, who was in charge for his final season at the club, is just one of many big characters in the game today.
The Spain international continued: “He is not the most incredible character I have ever encountered in football. There are many characters in football, though perhaps they are not all as well known.
“Journalists always say in England that he gives them a lot of work and play, so I guess he is good for journalists.”