Chelsea aim to steady ship as United close
A Premier League season that threatened to see Chelsea run away with the defence of their title resumes on Tuesday and Wednesday with teams at both ends of the table having plenty to play for.
Chelsea's 2-0 loss to Liverpool revived the title race and cut the Blues lead at the top of the table to two points over Manchester United, the only unbeaten side in the top flight. Only five points now separate big-spenders Manchester City, currently fourth, from Chelsea while, further down the table Liverpool may now be ninth but a tally of 15 points leaves them just five clear of relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic, their opponents on Wednesday.
Chelsea will look to return to winning ways in a west London derby at home to Fulham on Wednesday with Blues captain John Terry insisting some good could come from their Liverpool loss. "I don't think we ever take things for granted at this club but maybe this is the kick up the backside we all needed," said the England defender.
"We have another gear to find and we're still at the top of the Premier League, so we have to be encouraged by that, but we can't forget what has got us there in the first place," the centre-half added.
You have to go back to the late 1960s to find the last time a Manchester derby saw both City and United vying for the title but that's the situation the clubs find themselves in ahead of Wednesday's clash at Eastlands. City will be without suspended striker Mario Balotelli for the derby clash and United manager Sir Alex Ferguson did his best to add to the pressure on his cross-town rivals by insisting the Blues had to win something this season given the millions of pounds lavished on players by the club's Abu Dhabi owners.
"We know the kind of money they're spending - they've bought another five or six players in the summer - and they'll keep doing that until they win something," Ferguson said. "They're up there (challenging for the title), and you can't wait until tomorrow when there's something there today. I'm sure they're thinking that way themselves."
Arsenal meanwhile will look to bounce back from their 1-0 loss against Newcastle against a Wolves side still smarting from conceding a late winner from Manchester United's Park Ji-Sung. "We have to pick ourselves up," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "We are ambitious, and that is why we have to get our spirit on this (Wolves) game, focus again and come back with points."
Newcastle striker Andy Carroll, who scored the winner against the Gunners, will look to be on the scoresheet again against Blackburn. Carroll has found his private life making as many headlines as his performances on the field and Magpies manager Chris Hughton is concerned the forward does not get distracted from his day job.
"With Andy, it's about making sure that all the headlines he is making are on the back pages," Hughton said. "He is a young man, he has made mistakes, but he has got to make sure he learns from those mistakes, and I am quite sure he will."
Aston Villa play surprise package Blackpool on Wednesday when Bolton make the short trip to Everton and basement club West Ham face West Brom. Tuesday sees Stoke facing Birmingham in their first match since Potters boss Tony Pulis demanded a system of promotion and relegation for referees while Tottenham will look to put a 4-2 loss to Bolton behind them against Sunderland.