Ferdinand doubtful for Grand Slam football SundayMarch 21st, 2008 - 2:16 pm ICT by admin
London, March 21 (DPA) Manchester United could be without defender Rio Ferdinand for their crucial clash against Liverpool Sunday. This weekend - the second Grand Slam Super Sunday - the phrase under which Sky TV is marketing it - will do much to decide where the Premier League title ends up, with United’s meeting with their fiercest rivals being following by Arsenal’s visit to Chelsea.
United, who pulled three points clear at the top of the table with victory over Bolton Wednesday, are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League meetings with Liverpool, but look like being without Ferdinand, who has done much to put his inconsistencies behind him this season.
Ferdinand has a back problem and was described as “doubtful” by his manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
United could find themselves five points clear Sunday night, but Ferguson is taking nothing for granted.
“It’s nip and tuck now,” he said. “I think it’s going to go to the wire. Chelsea will be key because they have got us and Arsenal at home.
“It’s a lead, it’s not a significant lead but it’s a lead nonetheless. With eight games to go, the team who plays with the most consistency now will win it.”
Liverpool, though, are the most consistent team in the country at the moment, having won their last seven matches, something captain Jamie Carragher puts down to Rafa Bentitez’s rotation policy.
“He gets a lot of criticism for it but you have to look at his record, not just here at Valencia, it does prove successful,” he said.
Chelsea lost ground Wednesday as they three times led at Tottenham only to draw 4-4, but manager Avram Grant hasn’t thrown in the towel.
“We are five points off the top, still in the race and we will continue fighting,” he said.
A victory Sunday would lift Chelsea above Arsenal in second and would do much to silence those who accuse Grant of losing his nerve in big games.
Arsenal have drawn their last four games in the Premier League, and are desperate not to end up without any silverware to show for a season in which they have played some extraordinary football.
“We have to win at least one trophy this season. If we don’t, then we would have played all the fantastic football for nothing,” said forward Robin van Persie.
“This is our moment and we need to win something. We all realize we are in a fantastic position and this has to be our year.”
Van Persie has missed much of the season through injury, but returned for last week’s 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough.
Middlesbrough can expect to pull further away from relegation danger as they host a Derby side still stuck on just 10 points, and there are two other big games in the struggle against relegation.
Newcastle, without a win in nine since Kevin Keegan’s accession, host Fulham, while Birmingham travel to a resurgent Reading.
In other action, Aston Villa entertain Sunderland, Blackburn welcome Wigan, Tottenham take on Portsmouth and Manchester City visit Bolton.