A closer look at the title run-in

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The Independent Online

The Barclays Premier League title race is heading towards a thrilling climax. With two matches remaining Chelsea are one point ahead of Manchester United.

Will Carlo Ancelotti, in his first season at Stamford Bridge, deny Sir Alex Ferguson a record fourth successive title?

Here, we take a look at the crucial fixtures which will shape their destiny.

May 2

1330: Liverpool v Chelsea

Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping his Chelsea side put the squeeze on United, who play later in the day. The Italian coach will be aware though the team lost 2-0 in the corresponding fixture at Anfield last season. The games tend to be tight with Chelsea going on to win there in the Champions League before a thrilling 4-4 draw in the return leg with Liverpool twice ahead.

1600: Sunderland v Man Utd

Steve Bruce could deliver a fatal blow to his former club's chances of a record fourth successive title as he welcomes Sir Alex Ferguson to Sunderland for the first time. Ferguson would no doubt settle for a repeat of the 2-1 win at the ground last April when Ricky Sbragia was in charge. Should United lose and Chelsea win the title will return to west London.

May 9

1600: Chelsea v Wigan

This looks a home banker on the face of it given Wigan's erratic form on the road. They did ship nine goals at Tottenham after all. However Roberto Martinez's side showed earlier in the campaign they should not be underestimated as they managed to defeat Chelsea at home. Only last season they were denied a point at Stamford Bridge when Frank Lampard scored a last-minute winner.

1600: Man Utd v Stoke

Like Chelsea, United will be expected to end the season with a victory in front of their own supporters. Stoke are traditionally notoriously tough opponents but with their safety secured by some distance they seem to have switched off. That was reflected in the 7-0 defeat by Chelsea and manager Tony Pulis must fear another battering at Old Trafford after losing 5-0 last time out.

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