Chelsea captain John Terry has warned his team-mates to expect a brutal battle when the Premier League leaders travel to Blackburn on Saturday.
Blackburn were one of the teams criticised by Fulham's Danny Murphy recently for deliberately going out to intimidate opponents with their tough-tackling style. But Terry has no complaints about Blackburn's aggressive approach and the England defender is relishing the prospect of a physical encounter at Ewood Park.
Carlo Ancelotti's reigning champions are five points clear at the top of the table, but they have failed to score in their last two away league matches and Terry knows they will have to fight to end that run this weekend. "I think it (the criticism) is very unfair, especially against the likes of Wolves and Blackburn," Terry said.
"We know going to Blackburn is going to be a tough game. That's part of football. I think they get a lot of unfair criticism. We can't just go there and expect to pick up the three points because we're Chelsea Football Club. We need to go there and be prepared to have a scrap."
Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal have a strong enough squad to challenge for every major trophy this season. The Gunners, who host struggling London rivals West Ham on Saturday, moved into second place in the table after last weekend's 3-0 rout of Manchester City - a result Wenger believes was proof of his team's hunger for success.
Even the League Cup - normally treated with disdain by Wenger - is a serious target this season as Arsenal look to end a five-year trophy drought and the French coach admitted: "I said to the players we will go for everything we can, as simple as that. We don't want to choose competitions. "I believe we have a squad good enough to win trophies, that's why I think: 'OK, let's go as far as we can'."
Red Devils host Spurs
Manchester United will once again look to young Mexican striker Javier Hernandez to fill in for Wayne Rooney in Saturday's clash with Tottenham. With Rooney recovering from injury in Dubai, Hernandez has taken the chance to display his predatory instincts as United try to keep pace with Chelsea. He scored twice in last weekend's win at Stoke and then came off the bench to net the last-minute winner that sunk Wolves in the League Cup.
Michael Owen has been impressed by his United team-mate and the former England striker said: "It's obviously early days for him but he's made a really good impression at the club. He's young, sharp and a good finisher."
Spurs travel to Old Trafford looking for their first win there since December 1989 and Croatian midfielder Luka Modric is confident Harry Redknapp's side can end that barren run. "Why not go there and try to win? I know Tottenham haven't won at Old Trafford for a long time, so why not now?" Modric said. "It's the best stage to play, the best stadium and it will be a great game for us."
United's bitter rivals Manchester City need an immediate response to their defeat against Arsenal when they face Wolves at Molineux. Roberto Mancini's side missed a chance to close the gap on Chelsea against Arsenal, but the City boss is confident there will be no hangover from that result.
"There is no feeling that we are dispirited by what happened on Sunday, it is just the opposite," he said. "This game can be important because now we understand that we are a very strong team, that we play together and we have the right spirit in the team."
On Sunday, Liverpool aim to climb out of the relegation zone when they visit Bolton, while two fiercely contested local derbies see Aston Villa host Birmingham and Sunderland make the short trip to Newcastle.