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Man United, Chelsea turn focus to title chase
May 01, 2008 14:54 IST
Manchester United [Images] and Chelsea, who meet in next month's Champions League final in Moscow [Images], will focus on matters much closer to home this weekend when they renew their battle for the Premier League title.
On the domestic front, where there are two matches left to play, Chelsea pulled level with leaders United on 81 points by beating the champions 2-1 at Stamford Bridge last week.
Chelsea now travel to face a revitalised Newcastle United on Monday while United host West Ham United on Saturday.
A win for Alex Ferguson's men would clearly increase the pressure on Chelsea at St James' Park, particularly as United already have a far superior goal difference.
Looking further ahead, United's final league game is at Wigan Athletic on May 11 while Chelsea play Bolton Wanderers at home on the same day.
Along with the title and the battle to avoid the drop, the race for next season's UEFA Cup places is also set to go to the last day of the season.
Derby County's relegation fate was sealed back in March, but the wider scramble to avoid the drop zone has grown in intensity over the last four weeks.
Five clubs are left in the relegation scrap -- Fulham (30 points), Birmingham City (32), Reading (33), Bolton Wanderers (33) and even 15th-placed Middlesbrough (36).
Fulham flirted with relegation last weekend until they rallied superbly from 2-0 down to beat Manchester City 3-2 and other results went the west London [Images] club's way.
Fulham survived to fight another day and now face Birmingham at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
Reading, who are 17th and have not scored a goal for five matches, host Tottenham Hotspur after their astonishing match at White Hart Lane in December which Spurs won 6-4.
Reading's survival is already in some serious doubt, but it will be even tougher unless they end their goal drought quickly.
Bolton, who are 16th and have beaten West Ham and Middlesbrough as well as drawing with Spurs in their last three games, now face Sunderland, who made sure of their survival with a win over Middlesbrough in last week's Tyne-Wear derby.
Middlesbrough, who are probably safe despite the mathematical possibility of going down, host Portsmouth, who are playing as if they already have one eye on their FA Cup final date with Cardiff City on May 17.
Arsenal [Images], four points adrift in third but who can still theoretically win the title, face Everton at the Emirates on Sunday. The visitors are battling Aston Villa for fifth spot and the automatic UEFA Cup place.
Villa could climb above Everton on goal difference if they beat Wigan Athletic at Villa Park on Saturday.