Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari was unequivocal in setting out his aim for Sunday’s clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford at a press conference this afternoon.
“We need to win," said the Brazilian.
“We need to win because Manchester United are four points behind and they have two games in hand, which are not against us.
“If they were against us it would be in our hands, but they are not so we need to think to win the game. If we do we are in front. We have just 18 games left and if you lose three points against a direct opponent as Manchester United, you are in trouble.
“It is a test for our players because we need to win all the games."
Times have certainly been testing recently. Southend have taken the Blues to a Third Round replay at Roots Hall next week, and points were dropped away to Fulham in the club’s last league outing.
If Manchester United were to win on Sunday, they would be a solitary point behind Chelsea, with two games in hand.
A trip to Old Trafford would seem to be the last thing needed to stop the rot, but Scolari radiated optimism and excitement whilst speaking to the press, rather than negativity and trepidation.
“It is very good for the players, they don't need some words for motivation.”
“If you call a friend for you in China, they watch this game. In Brazil, Korea, Qatar, they want to know what time is this game.
“All the people want to watch this game. I don't know if it is true but I have heard that half the world is watching this game.”
Florent Malouda and Michael Essien remain sidelined, but Scolari will be able to call on the talents of John Terry and Michael Ballack, who return from suspension.
Scolari is particularly pleased by the return of the former.
“He is our leader who is playing very well every time and the opponents respect him,” Scolari said of Terry.
Terry could be forgiven for not feeling quite the same amount of excitement as his manager.
Sunday’s game will be the first time Terry has played against Manchester United at Old Trafford since his penalty miss in last season’s Champions League Final. He is sure to be reminded of that moment constantly throughout the match.
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