Another comeback chase for Chelsea

Chelsea has made a habit of comebacks in the past week, and now it needs the most stunning turnaround of all.

updated: March 22, 2007 06:37 IST
  • Total Shares


Chelsea has made a habit of comebacks in the past week, and now it needs the most stunning turnaround of all. The Premier League champions rallied to beat FC Porto in the Champions League and draw with Tottenham in the FA Cup. But they are nine points behind leader Manchester United in the English title race ahead of Wednesday's match at relegation-threatened Manchester City. Chelsea is set to get a big boost in its attempt to start reducing the deficit with the return of captain John Terry. The central defender has been sidelined since being kicked in the head in the 2-1 League Cup final victory over Arsenal on February 25. The need for the England captain has been clear. Last week, Porto tore apart the Chelsea defense to take an early lead in their Champions League match and it took a second-half comeback before the London club won 2-1 to advance. Then on Saturday, the defense left Chelsea trailing 3-1 with 19 minutes to play. Another comeback made it 3-3 to send the FA Cup quarterfinal to a replay on Monday. Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho may be without the improving Andriy Shevchenko, who limped out of training Tuesday with an injured left ankle. Manchester United lead Manchester United has 72 points from 29 games, followed by Chelsea with 63 points from 28 games. Compared to Chelsea, Manchester City's momentum is heading the other way. City coach Stuart Pearce is under pressure after four straight league defeats and Saturday's quarterfinal loss in the FA Cup. It left the team four places from the bottom - just above the relegation zone. "We expect Manchester City to be further up the league table. We need to win a few games between now and the end of the season," Pearce said. The club still has a six-point cushion over third-to-last Charlton, though. In the only other midweek game, Arsenal travels to Aston Villa, where victory would push it into third place ahead of Liverpool. The top two finishers in the Premier League get a guaranteed spot in next season's Champions League, while third and fourth have to go through qualifying. Arsenal is fourth in the standings with 52 points, trailing Liverpool by one but with two games in hand. Weighing heavy on the club though is the loss of striker Thierry Henry for the rest of the season. Henry was just back from a foot injury when he hurt groin and stomach muscles last week, when the Gunners were knocked out of the Champions League by PSV Eindhoven. Arsenal is also out of the FA Cup, leaving little to play for but a strong finish and a guaranteed place in next year's Champions League. On the bright side, midfielder Tomas Rosicky should recover from a groin injury in time to face Aston Villa, which is stuck in the middle of the table with 33 points.