Fergie warns that Chelsea are lurking dangerously in league
Published 16/09/2011 | 11:28
Sir Alex Ferguson expects Chelsea to be in the thick of the Premier League title battle, even though the Londoners have been overlooked during the opening weeks of the season.
With both Manchester clubs blazing a trail at the top of the table - City and United have yet to drop a point between them - Chelsea are being ignored.
Ferguson believes that will suit new Stamford Bridge manager Andre Villas-Boas down to the ground.
For, while the Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford attract all the publicity, the top flight's youngest coach can acclimatise himself to the new surroundings.
And, when Chelsea head to United on Sunday, Ferguson anticipates United will be taking on one of their biggest rivals.
"They will be there at the end of the season, there is no doubt about that," he said.
"At the moment, of course, the two Manchester teams are enjoying the publicity that comes from the predictions that they are going to be involved in the winning of the league.
"In the background lurks Chelsea. They don't need the publicity. They will be enjoying being out of the profile at the moment."
Chelsea had enjoyed the better of recent confrontations between the teams until last season, when United recovered from losing the opening meeting between the teams to win three on the trot in just over a month, including both legs of a Champions League quarter-final.
"It will be a fantastic game," Ferguson said.
"The games between both sides over the last seven years have been very close affairs.
"There is usually just one goal in it and it will be very tight on Sunday again."
Ferguson has also been impressed with the manner in which Villas-Boas has adapted to his new surroundings, having been recruited from Porto in the summer at the tender age of 33.
"The new coach has started very well," he said.
"For a young man who has come to Chelsea, it is a great challenge.
"It is a hard challenge at his age but when you go to a new club, you hope you get an immediate response. He has got that.
"They are a team with great experience and they will always be a challenge to us."
Ferguson reported no fresh injury concerns, with skipper Nemanja Vidic (calf), Tom Cleverley (foot) and Rafael (shoulder) still out, while Danny Welbeck (hamstring) is not expected to be available until next week's encounter with Stoke.