Toothless United put Chelsea firmly in the driving seat


MANCHESTER United manager Sir Alex Ferguson conceded Chelsea will be crowned champions unless the Blues “blow it”, after his disastrous few days continued with a potentially fatal slip in the title race.

Winger Antonio Valencia missed United’s best chance as the visitors failed to convert territorial superiority into the goals that would have taken them back to the top of the table.

Instead they trail leaders Chelsea by a point having played one game more, meaning Carlo Ancelotti’s men could go four points clear with four games remaining when they play their game in hand against Bolton tomorrow.

“It’s going to be very, very difficult to win this league now,” said Ferguson. “We’ll have a lifeline if Chelsea blow it, but in their eyes they have an easy game against Bolton. They’ll expect to win that. Our play today in the last third wasn’t good enough [and the result] isn’t what we expected given the amount of possession we had.”

A draw capped a miserable nine days that began with a home defeat to Chelsea and continued with Wednesday’s Champions League exit against Bayern Munich. The injury setback suffered by Wayne Rooney against the Germans meant the striker missed the trip to Ewood Park – and it showed. He could be back for Saturday’s derby against Manchester City, but by then United could even have slipped to third, if Arsenal beat Tottenham on Wednesday.

“City is a derby game, so that takes away the issue of chasing the league,” added Ferguson. “It is its own entity, and is all about bragging rights for the next few months.”

Dimitar Berbatov set up Valencia just before half-time but he shot against the legs of Paul Robinson, while Berbatov also fired straight at Robinson. United’s misery was compounded by injuries to defender Rio Ferdinand and winger Ryan Giggs.

Chelsea: Bolton (H) 13 Apr; Spurs (A) 17 Apr; Stoke (H) 25 Apr; Liverpool (A) 1 May; Wigan (H) 9 May

Man Utd: Man City (A) 17 Apr; Spurs (H) 25 Apr; Sunderland (A) 1 May; Stoke (H) 9 May
Arsenal: Spurs (A) 10 Apr; Wigan (A) 18 Apr; Man C (H) 24 Apr; B’burn (A) 1 May; Fulham (H) 9 May