Ferguson expects 'hard game' from Chelsea
Andre Villas-Boas may have conceded Chelsea are out of the Premier League title race, but his side's superb home record against Manchester United means they can still influence the final destiny of the championship.
Sir Alex Ferguson's United last won in the league at Stamford Bridge ten years ago and the rivalry between the clubs burns as fiercely as ever, despite the 12-point gap that currently separates the two sides.
United are locked in a battle with their near neighbours Manchester City at the head of the table, while Chelsea's immediate challenge is to tighten their grip on fourth place.
John Terry will miss the game with a knee injury but, while the fall-out from the Football Association's decision to strip him of the England captaincy has overshadowed Chelsea's preparations, Ferguson is well aware of the challenge posed by Villas-Boas' side.
"It's not an easy game going to Stamford Bridge. We haven't beaten them since 2002, which is a decade," said the United manager. "In that period, Chelsea's rise to prominence has been obvious and the last seven years, we have battled with them for league titles. Therefore, you expect a hard game and it will be.
"I hope our form will stand up as it did in the Arsenal game. Even last week at Liverpool [in the FA Cup], it was a really good performance from us, we just threw the match away with two bad mistakes. We didn't deserve it, but that can happen in a cup tie."
But Villas-Boas warned a Chelsea victory could derail United's title bid, just as their win over City last December had triggered a dip in form for Roberto Mancini's side.
"The leader in mid-December, Man City, was undisputed but they lost against us and continued to lose games and continued to drop points," said the Chelsea manager. "Man United in the last five games have three wins and two defeats, surprisingly, and that is the situation of the league and we can never tell."