LONDON, April 26, 2010 (AFP) - Carlo Ancelotti admits Chelsea will have to win their crunch clash at Liverpool next weekend if they want to pip Manchester United to the Premier League title.
Ancelotti's side regained pole position in the title race on Sunday as their imperious 7-0 destruction of Stoke at Stamford Bridge moved the Blues one point clear of second-placed United.
|Chelsea's English midfielder Frank Lampard shoots during of the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Stoke City at Stamford Bridge in London on April 25, 2010. AFP PHOTO|
Just 24 hours after United had replaced Chelsea on top of the table, they romped to their record top-flight win - and their third seven-goal haul this term - to send an emphatic message to Sir Alex Ferguson's team.
Now the focus switch to Chelsea's visit to Liverpool next Sunday for a mouth-watering match which is set to play a major role in the destiny of the title.
With United's final two fixtures, at Sunderland next Sunday and at home to Stoke, looking extremely winnable, Ancelotti knows his side cannot afford anything less than two victories from their remaining games against Liverpool and Wigan if they want to stay ahead of the champions.
Winning at Anfield is always a tough ask, even in a disappointing season for Liverpool, and the Reds' push for a top-four finish means Rafael Benitez's team are certain to give everything, even if it means potentially handing arch-rivals United a record 19th English league title.
"I think Man Utd will be able to win against Sunderland and Stoke but the title is in our hands and our aim is to win two games. If we win two games we are champions," Ancelotti said.
"We have one week to prepare for this game at Liverpool and we will do our best. I hope we play as well at Anfield as we did against Stoke.
"We have to play against a strong team, a fantastic team who are involved in fourth place and it will be a very difficult match for both teams.
"Liverpool will fight against us to reach fourth place because it is a very important position for the future of the club. Our destiny is in our hands."
Ancelotti can take heart from his side's 2-0 win over the Reds earlier this season, while the majority of his team won at Anfield in the Champions League quarter-finals under Guus Hiddink last season.
They certainly have enough firepower to trouble a Liverpool team who will be without injured star striker Fernando Torres.
Chelsea have managed to paper over the increasingly large cracks in their defence by scoring an incredible 93 goals in the league this season.
"Our philosophy is to attack. We put a lot of players in front, we want to attack to use the quality of our players this ability we have to score," Ancelotti said.
Salomon Kalou started the rout on Sunday when he dived to head in Didier Drogba's cross and he added a second with a close-range finish after Denmark goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen spilled Frank Lampard's shot.
Sorensen suffered a dislocated elbow in that incident which could rule him out of the World Cup, but his replacement Asmir Begovic fared no better.
Lampard tucked away a penalty on the stroke of half-time after Robert Huth fouled Kalou, who completed his treble midway through the second half.
Stand-in captain Lampard, deputising for the suspended John Terry, netted the fifth with a perfectly-judged flick before Daniel Sturridge and Florent Malouda scored late on.
It was a chastening experience for Stoke boss Tony Pulis but his thoughts quickly turned to Chelsea's title showdown at Liverpool.
"Chelsea are a terrific side and the big game now is their game at Liverpool," Pulis said. "That looks like the championship decider to me now. It is a massive game."