Chelsea and Arsenal look to boost title challenges

February 25th, 2010 - 7:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Chelsea London, Feb 25 (DPA) Leaders Chelsea and challengers Arsenal will be out to take advantage of the absence of a match for Manchester United this weekend as the Premier League title race continues to hot up.
With United taking on Aston Villa in the Carling Cup final Sunday, victory for Chelsea would restore their four-point lead over United at the top while Arsenal could close to within two points of the champions in third if they can take maximum points at Stoke City.

Chelsea go into their meeting with fifth-placed Manchester City on Saturday lunchtime on the back of a defeat at Inter Milan in the Champions League.

More worryingly for manager Carlo Ancelotti, he could be without his first-choice goalkeeper Petr Cech, who suffered a leg injury in Milan.

“We don’t know now (how bad it is),” the Italian said. “We have to wait some days and we have to do a check control on his calf. “I don’t know (if he will be fit to play against City). We don’t know, we have to wait.”

Back-to-back home wins have restored Arsenal’s belief that they can still win the title, partly because they have a game in hand on United, but more because they do not have to play any of the big sides in their remaining matches.

Veteran defender Sol Campbell, who returned to the club just last month, could play his fourth match if William Gallas does not recover from a calf injury in time for the visit to Stoke.

The 35-year-old, who won the Double with Arsenal in 1998, believes the Londoners are still very much in the title race.

Arsenal have lost on their last two visits to Stoke but if they win this weekend they will be breathing down the necks of United. “It’s simple, we have to win as many games as possible,” Campbell said.

“Other teams at the top will be playing each other, so we just have to look after ourselves and make sure we’re firing on all cylinders. Whoever plays must give it everything they’ve got in these remaining games, and see where it takes us.”

Liverpool will be waiting to take advantage of any slip-up by Manchester City to boost their bid for fourth spot and the last Champions League berth.

Rafael Benitez’s side take on Blackburn Rovers at Anfield Sunday in the first of three consecutive very winnable games and victory would also put the pressure onto the current fourth-placed team, Tottenham Hotspur, who welcome in-form Everton on the same day.

Bottom side Portsmouth, facing the prospect of going into administration - which would result in a 10-point penalty and almost certain relegation - are away to fellow strugglers Burnley.

Bolton Wanderers, the other side in the bottom three, host Wolverhampton Wanderers, while Birmingham play Wigan and Sunderland take on Fulham in the weekend’s other match.

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