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Chelsea look to derail United hopes

sports Updated: Feb 04, 2012 23:45 IST

AFP
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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 10 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."

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.

Terry's absence could mean a first start for Gary Cahill, while Frank Lampard could return after a calf injury. Midfielders Ramires and John Obi Mikel are injured.

Ferguson still faces an anxious wait over his goalkeeping position, with Anders Lindegaard expected to be out for up to six weeks with ankle ligament damage and David de Gea also facing a late fitness test. Wayne Rooney, Nani, Ashley Young and Tom Cleverley are all in the squad.