"One team [City] started the season strong and are still strong, another team [United] didn't start well and is improving a lot", he added.
Popped up with his ninth goal against Manchester United in a dominant 3-1 victory for the champions. He took the easy option.
Last season the gap jumped to a record 19 between first and second place as City romped to the title with 100 points.
United's lack of goal threat throughout the game meanwhile was emphasised by the gulf in the volume of shots both sides attempted.
The wins over Bournemouth and Everton, plus the miraculous late comeback at Juventus in the UEFA Champions League, have given United's fans false hope that this season could still be a success.
More worryingly for Mourinho - a manager whose success across four major European leagues has revolved around making his teams hard, if not virtually impossible, to beat - United failed to keep a clean sheet for the 11th time in 12 Premier League games and conceded three goals in a game for the fourth time this season. Mourinho still kept Matic in his team and he ended up starting 35 of the United's 38 league matches.
Nuno Espirito Santo's men were matched at a high of [6.6] to win the game and soon had the lead when Ivan Cavaleiro scored from close range, but in the dying minutes substitute Henrikh Mkhitaryan saved the Gunners' blushes to rescue a draw.
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Mourinho told Sky Sports: "We are outside the top four".
Manchester City, meanwhile, is cruising, most recently taking down Shakhtar Donetsk 6-0 in Champions League play.
Four fixtures were scheduled with three televised games - Liverpool vs Fulham, Chelsea vs Everton and the Manchester derby.
But when this point was put to United manager Mourinho, he replied by saying: "I think we are not going to be relegated". The game was there until minute 80 something.
In fact, this is the first time since 1977-78 that United have a negative goal difference after 12 games of a top-flight season - Baccara were top of the charts with Yes Sir, I Can Boogie. We were punished, but the performance, mentality, togetherness, belief, fighting until the end, is something we are building.
United brought on Romelu Lukaku just before the hour-mark and the powerful Belgian immediately handed his team a lifeline as he chased a ball into the box and went over Ederson - the ref pointed to the spot and Anthony Martial halved the deficit.
"We showed some sign of improvement", he said.
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"It is not the physical effort but the mental pressure".
"I haven't watched the penalty yet", he said. We are together. We are not going to be effected by this.
"We were in a fight to try to get the equalizer", Mourinho said.
That's not what you expect from a side that is now in the middle of a title race and are now unbeaten in the league, just two points behind Manchester City.
The Belgium worldwide replaced £89m midfielder Paul Pogba, who was injured before the match.
The antics angered United's Spanish midfielder Juan Mata, who seemed to think Sterling was taunting his team. "We tried and it felt like we could've hurt them more".
Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty said there is a "gulf in class" between the blue and red side of Manchester, and the stats that Mourinho so dislikes seem to suggest this.
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"If people see me live, they say, 'I thought you were much bigger!' I was never big, but I gave everything in challenges". We are frustrated after this kind of result. Not fit at all. "That is not an excuse". They have already drawn with Manchester City at home and Manchester United away.