Carlo Ancelotti insists his Chelsea remain bystanders in the title race but their chances of making a late charge will strengthen if they can secure victory over Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Chelsea go into the clash knowing victory will allow them to leap-frog third-placed City and reinforce the upbeat mood in west London that has accompanied the recent upturn in form. The midweek Champions League aggregate victory over FC Copenhagen set up a quarterfinal meeting with United and put more distance between the Blues and their mid-season slump.
Ancelotti will recall Fernando Torres after the striker was rested against Copenhagen along with centre-back David Luiz who was rested for that tie. Torres' continuing problems in front of goal --- he has failed to score in six appearances for his new club --- have been one of the few disappointments in the last month but Ancelotti insists he is unconcerned.
"He needs to score above all for himself, not the team," said the manager. "The team is doing well. I understand very well that, for the strikers, it's important to score. But I ask my striker not just to score, but to work hard.” He's doing this. I've had this before a lot of times. I kept Hernan Crespo for six months without him scoring.
Japan stars return from Europe
Tokyo: European clubs have freed up eight Japanese players for a charity match aimed at raising funds for the earthquake-devastated nation, football officials said on Saturday. The Japan Football Association said it also expected four others, including World Cup star and CSKA Moscow midfielder Keisuke Honda, to be released for the March 29 event in Osaka between the Blue Samurai and a J-League select squad.
Schalke, Magath mend fences
Gelsenkirchen, Germany: Champions League quarterfinalists Schalke 04 and former coach Felix Magath put an end to their threats of legal action on Saturday. Schalke cleared Magath in a statement over accusations by president Clemens Toennies that he had organised transfers without the permission of the board of directors.
One-match ban for Wenger, Nasri
Nyon, Switzerland: UEFA imposed one-match bans on Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and midfielder Samir Nasri.
Sanctions for the two were expected after their outbursts at referee Massimo Busacca following Arsenal's last-16 elimination against Barca.