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Man United already playing catch-up with Chelsea

Man United already playing catch-up with Chelsea

Manchester United could be lagging five points behind Chelsea in the Premier League by Sunday night.
No wonder Alex Ferguson doesn't relish Monday's match at Portsmouth, where his team hasn't won in 30 months, with even more daunting trips to Liverpool and Chelsea up next.
"We've got difficult away games," Ferguson said Friday. "It's never easy at Fratton Park. Teams go down there and know they're going to get a battle _ it's never an easy place to go to."
Ravaged by injuries, the Red Devils were lacking sharpness and the finesse that delivered European and English tiles in May as they were held 1-1 by Newcastle at home in the season opener. Chelsea, meanwhile, looked far more impressive in dispatching Portsmouth 4-0 at Stamford Bridge, and has an easier visit to Wigan on Sunday.
While Carlos Tevez has returned after his uncle's death, Ferguson is still no closer to signing another striker before the transfer deadline closes Sept. 1. Cristiano Ronaldo was jogging Friday morning, but won't return to action until October.
Midfielder Michael Carrick is also out for three weeks after limping out of the season opener.
"By the time we get to Liverpool and Chelsea we'll be in a far better position, player-wise and hopefully form-wise too," Ferguson said. "But Monday's a big one for us, we get that one out of the road, get a result there and it's a positive step forward, given the players who are all coming back."
Pompey also knocked United out of the FA Cup last season at Old Trafford.
Luiz Felipe Scolari is also welcoming players back, with Michael Ballack and Michael Essien set to return following injuries, while winger Salomon Kalou is back from the Olympics.
After scoring Sunday, Nicolas Anelka is looking to make the most of spearheading the attack in Didier Drogba's absence.
"When you stop playing it is difficult to come back again," the France striker said. "You need rhythm, even more when you are a striker because you need confidence. If you don't have confidence you are nothing."
Chelsea leads Aston Villa on goal difference and Martin O'Neill's side is Stoke's first home fixture in the Premier League on Saturday.
After scraping past Sunderland, Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is looking for a more emphatic performance against Middlesbrough on Sunday.
"We know we can improve, but we have players in the Olympic Games and players returning late," Benitez said. "Maybe the game wasn't the best but we can improve clearly."
Ryan Babel has returned from Beijing, but Javier Mascherano and Lucas won't be back until next week.
If Fernando Torres, who netted the winner at Middlesbrough, can find the net for a ninth successive home league match, the Spain striker will break a record set by Roger Hunt in the 1961-62 season.
"We hope Fernando can create his piece of club history, and then maybe more in the future," Benitez said Friday.
Manchester City manager Mark Hughes is short of attacking options for Sunday's clash with West Ham.
Valeri Bojinov joined Benjani Mwaruwari and Darius Vassell on the injury list when he tore his Achilles' tendon before Sunday's 4-2 defeat at Aston Villa. Hughes hopes Bulgaria winger Martin Petrov can provide an attacking spark.
"Everyone's aware of the quality that Martin has, he's a great outlet for us on the left hand side," Hughes said. "Most of our attacking threat has come through Martin, so we need to keep him fit and well and keep getting him into the right areas so that he has a ready supply of ball to work with.
"If we do that he will continue to be a threat for us."
Arsene Wenger hopes his Arsenal side, which opened with a win over West Brom, will quickly focus on league action after Wednesday's international fixtures.
"We know the success of our season is based on how quickly we can focus again on club targets after international games," the Gunners manager said. "Fulham have a strong squad, and their team look more dangerous going forwards than they did last year.
"If you add to that it will be a derby, you want a game where you have complete focus."
Tottenham hosts Sunderland, Blackburn hosts Hull, Newcastle hosts Bolton, and West Brom hosts Everton in Saturday's other matches.


Updated : 2021-06-14 11:09 GMT+08:00