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We are always expected to win – Fletcher


Darren Fletcher (centre). Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

Darren Fletcher (centre). Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

Jose Mourinho. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Jose Mourinho. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images


Darren Fletcher (centre). Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

DARREN Fletcher has claimed Manchester United have nothing to fear ahead of Sunday's Premier League trip to Chelsea.

United travel to west London as underdogs following a disappointing start to the new year, having lost three straight matches before securing a morale-boosting 2-0 win over Swansea City at Old Trafford.

In contrast, Chelsea are flying high in the title race and have claimed 25 points from a possible 30 in their last 10 matches. Notably, they have also never lost a league game at Stamford Bridge under Jose Mourinho in either his first or current second spell as their manager.

However, having navigated difficult periods in the past, Fletcher is drawing on experience and insists his teammates are not daunted by Sunday's match.

"Not at all, we are expected to win every game and it doesn't matter if it is Swansea at home or Chelsea away, it is viewed as a disaster if we don't win," the Scottish midfielder said.

"We have been in these situations before and, sometimes in bigger games, you really come together and it brings out your best performances as well because you are really focused and you are really intent on proving people wrong.

"We will treat it like we do with every other game. We will go to win. We know it is a great challenge going to Chelsea, but we can take some confidence from the Swansea game and we are fully confident of going down there and getting more of the same."

Mourinho's battles with United in his first stint as manager were frequently billed as decisive skirmishes in the title race and this encounter won't lack edge despite their current league placings.

Eleven points separate David Moyes's side from the summit and defeat would effectively end any lingering hopes they have that a strong run-in could propel them into contention. Perhaps more pressing, however, is the fact a reverse could leave United eight points adrift of fourth place and Champions League qualification if Liverpool beat Aston Villa tomorrow.

In the run-up to the weekend's standout fixture, the difference between the two protagonists has been felt in the transfer market.

Chelsea flexed their muscles by spending £21 million on Benfica midfielder Nemanja Matic, while United continue to keep their powder dry.

With striker Robin van Persie still out injured and Wayne Rooney's involvement doubtful after returning from a warm-weather break planned to restore his fitness, United's approach is likely to be focused on containment.

Chelsea were cautious in the teams' clash at Old Trafford in August, which finished in a goalless draw, but with Arsenal and Manchester City both at home this weekend, dropped points could see them hand the initiative to their rivals.

United midfielder Shinji Kagawa, meanwhile, believes he needs to get stronger to make a greater impact in England.

The former Borussia Dortmund playmaker has struggled to establish himself at Old Trafford but earned praise for his display against Swansea last weekend.

There has been debate about the 24-year-old's future, but the player himself feels he knows where to improve.

Kagawa said: "I think I can still improve my strength. I'm not the tallest or biggest player, so I have to move my body more.

"Smaller players in the Premier League are very good at using their bodies (to get past the opposition) and that's what I will continue to do.

"I realise the Premier League is a very tough league and I know I have to be stronger."