As Chelsea prepare to dethrone Manchester United from their perch as Premier League champions there has been a lot of conspiracy theories flying around about their respective opponents.
The Blues start off a super Sunday at Anfield against Liverpool (United‘s most bitter rivals.) Shortly after that game finishes, defending title holders United will face their former captain Steve Bruce’s Sunderland side at the Stadium of Light. Many fans, especially those on popular football forums have suggested that Liverpool may roll over for Chelsea as they would rather lose than see their bitter rivals Manchester United win the league, let alone their 19th title which would surpass Liverpool’s record of 18. At the same time many others have suggested that Bruce may do his former chief and mentor a favour in their fixture, but these suggestions are far-fetched.
Carlo Ancelotti cooled talk of conspiracy rumours when he said: “I think that Sunderland will do their best to beat United and Liverpool will do the same against us.Every team has respect for this Premier League and every team has to do their best until the end of the matches.” Ironically Sir Alex Ferguson is pinning his hopes on his foe Rafa Benitez and only now he needs a favour he has decided to sing Liverpool’s praises as a ‘big club’ with pride. He is said to be dismayed that Liverpool had to play extra-time on Thursday night. He spoke about Liverpool’s Europa League semi-final against Atletico Madrid: “We would have preferred them to play for 90 minutes and I don not think English teams get the proper help when they are in Europe. To have to play a Sunday lunchtime kick-off after a Thursday game, to me, is not fair and it happens time and time again.”
Obviously the Anfield fail would hate to see United lift a record winning title, but they will be playing for their pride and for league positioning (even if it would take a miracle for them to finish fourth). Who is to say that Chelsea need Liverpool to throw the game for them to win? The Pensioners’ 3-1 win in the Champions League quarter finals last season would have gone a long way to help banish their own personal ghost of Anfield. Also, the Reds have had an awful season and have several injuries most notably their talismanic striker Fernando Torres and they may face an effort to contain a Chelsea side which is topping the table and has scored 93 goals.
As far a Sunderland are concerned it is true that they have little to play for except their pride and a 9th placed finish, which obviously means a slight difference in prize money. However, Darren Bent has been prolific this season with 24 Premier League goals and a good showing against the reigning champions will make it increasingly difficult for England manager Fabio Capello to pick him for the World Cup squad. Whatever happens it is sure to be a weekend which will contain plenty of drama and could be pivotal in the title race.