Chelsea's Michael Ballack has boldly claimed the Premier League is already looking like being a two-horse race between the west Londoners and champions Manchester United.
Chelsea opened up a three-point lead at the top of the table with their sixth successive win, 3-0 over Tottenham, while United's amazing 4-3 victory over Manchester City puts them second, three points ahead of Liverpool in third.
Ballack said: "It looks a little bit like a two-horse race but we don't underestimate anybody. Man City did well until now. Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool are all teams that can have a run any time of the season. But United have a lot of good years behind them with the Champions League win and three title wins in the Premier League, which will give them a lot of confidence.
"That helps them in the tight games like you saw against Man City and they always come back, they always believe they can score in the last minute. We've won every game and we want to keep going like this. The team is confident and settled."
The Tottenham manager, Harry Redknapp, shares Ballack's opinion after watching his side lose to both Chelsea and United in the space of in eight days. Redknapp said: "The title will be decided between Chelsea and Manchester United for sure. It is definitely going to be won by one of them."
The Tottenham defender Sébastien Bassong has been cleared to return to action following what had appeared to be a serious head injury in Sunday's 3-0 defeat to Chelsea.
Bassong left the pitch on a stretcher but checks in hospital revealed no serious problem and he is expected to resume full training today. Ledley King, however, is out for up to three weeks with a hamstring strain, leaving Redknapp desperately short in defence. The club said Michael Dawson is close to full fitness following an Achilles injury, and he could play some part in Spurs' Carling Cup tie at Preston tomorrow. But there is still no imminent return for England's Jonathan Woodgate, who underwent surgery in Germany on a persistent groin injury six weeks ago. The former Real Madrid and Newcastle centre-half has yet to return to training, prompting fears it may be several weeks before he is back.
In emergency, Redknapp could move either Tom Huddlestone or Vedran Corluka into the centre of defence for Saturday's home match with Burnley or call up the young Frenchman Dorian Dervite.Reuse content