Blues can Cech United charge

Cech helped the champions beat Birmingham 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on

Wednesday night, while the Gunners squandered yet another two-goal

lead to draw the north London derby 3-3 at White Hart Lane. Those

results saw Chelsea edge above Arsenal into second place on goal

difference and close to within six points of United. Carlo

Ancelotti’s men are the form team in the Premier League, winning

five and drawing one of their last six games, with Arsene Wenger’s

side drawing five and winning just one over the same period.

Chelsea also trump Arsenal in terms of title-winning experience,

having won the league three times since the Gunners were last

crowned champions seven years ago. Blues goalkeeper Cech

understandably questioned whether Wenger’s men have what is takes

to pounce on any United’s slip-ups. “Arsenal had a big game against

Tottenham,” he said. “They were 3-1 up and threw it away. Now they

are third for the first time in a long time so let’s see how they

cope with this new situation. “They had plenty of chances this

season to close the gap and haven’t taken them yet.” Cech has no

doubt about Chelsea’s credentials to take advantage of any United

meltdown during the final month of the season. The champions have

rediscovered the sort of form that saw them threaten to run away

with the title back in October before they endured their worst run

in the league for almost 15 years. United are still heavy

favourites to get over the line but, with Arsenal and Chelsea still

to play, the London rivals could yet conspire to produce one of the

great championship comebacks. Cech said: “We’ve been saying for a

long time we want to keep winning and maintain the pressure on

everybody. “Arsenal have difficult games and United have to play us

and Arsenal so there could possibly be six points (dropped by

them). “We have two games at home against West Ham and Spurs to

come and, if we win both, the situation could change again.

“Chelsea were one of the worst (teams in the form guide) a few

months ago and now we’re getting back to normal.” Chelsea’s season

looked to be over after they were knocked out of the Champions

League by United last week. That defeat seemed to seal Ancelotti’s

fate as manager, with the Italian appearing all but resigned to

losing his job. But retaining the title could yet make

trigger-happy owner Roman Abramovich think again. And Cech believes

Chelsea’s European exit to United could even give them the edge

during the Premier League run-in. “They have to play a semi-final,

so let’s see how they cope,” he said. “We have one competition to

focus on which, is to our advantage because we can prepare all week

and get more rest. “Everything is close and it is important to

score goals. “We could end up with the same number of points, so

goal difference will play a big part now.” Goal difference also

looks certain to be crucial at the other end of the table and

Birmingham, who are five points above the drop zone, would have

been pleased therefore to grab a late consolation last night. But

manager Alex McLeish was not amused to see Sebastian Larsson and

Craig Gardner squabbling over who took the 76th-minute penalty

which kept the score respectable. Larsson, who won the tussle,

insisted afterwards there was no ill-feeling between the pair. He

said: “We always joke about it in training, that we’re both the

penalty takers, and I don’t think any of us have missed this

season. “Obviously, both of us wanted to take it. “I took this one

and said ‘Gards, you will have the next one’, so next time I will

step away.”