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English Premier League: Jose Mourinho taunts 'acrobat' Luis Suarez

updated 4:23 PM EST, Sun December 29, 2013
Chelsea striker Samuel Eto'o celebrates after scoring his team's winner against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea striker Samuel Eto'o celebrates after scoring his team's winner against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
  • Third-placed Chelsea two points behind Arsenal after beating Liverpool 2-1
  • Samuel Eto'o scores winning goal, having helped Liverpool's opener with foul
  • Arsenal top of the table following Sunday's 1-0 victory at Newcastle
  • Everton in fourth above Liverpool after winning 2-1 against Southampton

(CNN) -- Arsenal may top the English Premier League table going into 2014, but Jose Mourinho leads the way when it comes to post-match performances.

After a hard-fought 2-1 win that kept his Chelsea team in touch with Arsenal and Manchester City ahead of the EPL's New Year's Day program, Mourinho sought to deflect any possible criticism of his players with a blustering counter-attack.

When questioned about key incidents in Sunday's match, which continued the tense clashes between the two teams in recent years, the Portuguese manager accused Luis Suarez of "an acrobatic swimming pool jump" and going down "like somebody shot him."

This was after Chelsea's match-winner Samuel Eto'o had clearly body-checked the 19-goal striker off the ball inside his own penalty area while Cesar Azpilicueta cleared the ball.

"Suarez lost a duel with Azpilicueta ... and now he's doing an acrobatic swimming pool jump to try to get the penalty, because he's so clever because he's in the area where the Liverpool supporters are behind," Mourinho insisted at his press conference.

"But (referee Howard) Webb is 10 meters away. And I think the only mistake Webb did was not to give him a yellow card."

Suarez has a reputation of going to ground too easily, but this season the Uruguayan has been a reformed man -- being named interim captain by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers -- following last season's eight-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.

"The player is amazing," acknowledged Mourinho, who has yet to suffer a home league defeat in his two spells at Stamford Bridge. "He does everything to win and Brendan is doing a fantastic job on him because he's changed. There's no doubt that he's changed.

Read: Man City take top spot

"But when the situation is like this and you are losing comes the nature of the player, the wild nature of the player or the cultural nature of the player.

"Culturally people from that area (South America), they like it. It's not also that area. There's a corner in Europe where I belong to, that they also like diving."

Rodgers, meanwhile, was aggrieved that Eto'o was still on the pitch following a high tackle on Jordan Henderson that provided the free-kick for Martin Skrtel's early opening goal -- the defender pounced from close range after Ivanovic tussled with Suarez.

Eden Hazard leveled with a superb curling effort, and Eto'o poked in a 34th-minute winner from Oscar's low cross.

"He should've been sent off," Rodgers said of the Cameroon striker. "I know we scored from it, but that was a wild challenge, where he's raked down his knee and down his shin and didn't even get a yellow card.

"Luis will always provoke a challenge from defenders, that's why he's world-class. What he probably doesn't expect is to provoke a challenge from someone who's not involved in the contact.

"He's running to challenge Azpilicueta and Eto'o is streetwise, he's cute, he blocks him. On another day you could give that as a penalty, because it's obstruction in the area."

Rodgers was measured in his comments after being charged by the English Football Association for criticizing match officials following Liverpool's 2-1 defeat by Manchester City on Thursday.

His team topped the table last weekend, but a second straight reverse left the Reds in fifth place -- six points behind Arsenal, and four adrift of third-placed Chelsea.

The team leading going into the new year has won the title for seven of the past nine years, though Arsenal was one of the exceptions in 2007-08, dropping back to third.

The London side was missing record signing Mesut Ozil and top scorer Aaron Ramsey for Sunday's trip to in-form Newcastle, but battled to a vital 1-0 victory thanks to Olivier Giroud's eighth league goal this season.

The France striker glanced in Theo Walcott's 65th-minute free-kick to inflict Newcastle's first league defeat since October.

"There is something in the team that is special on the mental front," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

"We have many times been questioned, but we have shown that at West Ham, where we were 1-0 down, we have shown that again today, where we were a bit backs-to-the-wall in the last 15 minutes.

"Last year in this period, we were out of the championship race, but in 2013, we have been quite consistent."

Arsenal's win allowed London rival Tottenham to move up to seventh place above Newcastle with a 3-0 win at home to 12th-placed Stoke, as Spain striker Roberto Soldado netted a penalty before Belgium midfielder Mousa Dembele and England winger Aaron Lennon added the others.

Everton climbed above Merseyside rival Liverpool into fourth with a 2-1 win at home to ninth-placed Southampton, as on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku struck the 74th-minute winner -- the Belgium international's ninth in the league this season.

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