LONDON - Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has tipped in-form Liverpool to emerge as serious challengers for the English Premier League title this season.
Mourinho's side are currently top of the table, but fourth-placed Liverpool are just four points adrift and the Portuguese coach feels Brendan Rodgers' men have a major advantage given their lack of European involvement.
Chelsea, second-placed Arsenal and third-placed Manchester City have Champions League last 16 ties looming, with all three holding ambitions of a long run in Europe's elite club competition.
That could benefit Liverpool and although they are still outsiders to win the title with most bookmakers, Mourinho claims they have to be taken seriously.
And he insists it is not just mind games to put pressure on a rival who recorded an impressive 5-1 win over Arsenal last weekend.
"When I say we're not the top candidate everyone thinks 'here he is again, with what you like to call the mind games'," Mourinho told Sky Sports News.
"But it's just my feeling. The league is amazing but Liverpool have a big advantage because of the fact they don't play in the Champions League."
Given the unusually wide-open nature of the title race, Mourinho does not expect his team or any of their rivals to have an easy run-in as the pressure mounts.