United aim to pile pressure on Blues
Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher believes Chelsea will start to feel the strain if the champions reclaim first place in the title race with a win over in-form Tottenham tomorrow.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side can pile pressure on Chelsea by moving two points clear at the top of the Premier League ahead of the Blues' home match against Stoke on Sunday. United looked destined to miss out on a fourth successive English title when Chelsea opened up a four-point lead just two weeks ago. But the title race was blown wide open last weekend as United snatched a last-gasp win at Manchester City, while Chelsea slumped at Tottenham.
Now United are snapping at Chelsea's heels again and Scotland star Fletcher knows the suddenly shaky west London outfit could crack if Ferguson's men turn up the heat at Old Trafford on Saturday. "They are the team with the pressure because they are the team that's leading the league," Fletcher told Sky Sports News. "All the pressure is on them and we just have to take care of ourselves.
"I think they have been in a position where they felt they could have pulled away and been in a real strong position, but they're not, so from that point of view all of the pressure is on them. We never thought it was gone because there is still all to play for and anything can happen."
While Fletcher and company are dreaming of an improbable comeback in the title race, Tottenham's victories over Arsenal and Chelsea last week lifted Harry Redknapp's team into fourth place - two points clear of fifth-placed City in the fight for the final UEFA Champions League spot. With four games to go, Spurs are within touching distance of qualifying for Europe's elite club competition, but they have gone 23 matches without a win at Old Trafford stretching back to December 1989.
Tom Huddlestone, the Spurs midfielder, said: "The games don't get any easier and now it's Man Utd away. They did us a favour last weekend by beating City but it's going to be a hard place to go to and our record up there isn't great. We've just got to go into it with the confidence we've shown over the last two games."
After slipping up against Tottenham, Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea will be hoping for a favour from their London rivals, but the club's Portugal midfielder Deco insists the title is still firmly in his side's hands going into the Stoke match. "It is a war, and we need to be prepared but, if you said on the first day of the Premier League we would be one point clear with three games to go, two at home and one game away, we would all say okay, I'll sign!" Deco said.
"We can do the mathematics but it just depends on us, if we win our three games we win the league. We don't need to think about the games of Man Utd, they need to think about our games."
With Arsenal's title hopes all but over after their meltdown at Wigan last weekend, it is Manchester City, featuring former Gunners striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who need the points most at the Emirates Stadium. Adebayor is sure to receive a hostile reception after his provocative goal celebration against Arsenal earlier this season.
"On Saturday it is important Emmanuel only concentrates on Manchester City because he is important to us when he is doing that," said Mancini. "If he scores another goal I will be happy but it is important we don't have another situation like the first one."
Elsewhere, Burnley will be relegated if they lose to Liverpool on Sunday and West Ham win their crucial clash against Wigan. A West Ham victory coupled with a Hull loss at home to Sunderland would also effectively send the Tigers down.