Villas-Boas certain Blues can close gap
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas is confident his side will end the season as London's top club.
The Blues are 11 points behind leaders Manchester City, and will face a tough test when they welcome a resurgent Sunderland side to Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Chelsea are also eight points adrift of fellow London-based club Tottenham Hotspur, who currently sit in third place.
Chelsea fans are not used to being out-performed by the men from White Hart Lane, but Villas-Boas believes that though Harry Redknapp's side are in impressive form at the moment, the bigger picture will favour his players.
"They (Totteham) have overtaken Chelsea in the Premier League this season," Villas-Boas said. "Both of them have fantastic history but over the last ten years there is no comparison between the two clubs. The question about good football normally belongs to the leaders. When you are under pressure you don't do things so well and maybe your quality drops. It might be that fact that makes you lose points."
Tottenham moved to within three points of City on Wednesday night, and nine ahead of fifth-place Arsenal, with a 2-0 win over Everton, but Villas-Boas had anticipated such a scenario. "It doesn't change a lot as we were expecting Tottenham to win that game," Villas-Boas said. "Manchester City lost three in four and Manchester United are trying to find consistency. Eight points is some distance you can shorten."
Villas-Boas is also hoping the £7 million ($10.7 million) transfer of English defender Gary Cahill can be concluded in the near future. Negotiations over wages have been ongoing for a while, but Villas-Boas believed the deal would be completed, saying: "I'm sure that all of the parties are protecting their interests."
Cahill's arrival would allow the Brazilian Alex, who submitted a transfer request in December, to join Queens Park Rangers. Meanwhile, Chelsea captain John Terry is confident a knee injury sustained in a collision with a post during Sunday's 4-0 FA Cup win over Portsmouth will not rule him out this weekend.
"All is fine," the England skipper said. "It's a little bit swollen, but I am sure with the couple of days off we have, it will heal," the defender added.
Sunderland flying high
Sunderland are enjoying life under new manager Martin O'Neill, who replaced the sacked Steve Bruce early in December. The Black Cats beat Manchester City 1-0 on New Year's Day and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was confident his side could cause another upset. "It is important when you play the top teams to not just sit back and hope for a 0-0 draw, because eventually they always score," Mignolet said.
"You need a few possibilities so they are scared to push themselves further forward. If you keep a clean sheet and you score one, you have done your job."
Sunderland have won five of their seven games under former Aston Villa manager O'Neill and are up to tenth in the table. "We are now a little bit clear from the bottom three so it is nice to have some breathing space," Mignolet added. "The results have brought some confidence into the team and given everyone a lift. Now we can look up again."