Ince wary of backlash from 'awesome' Chelsea

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Paul Ince believes Luiz Felipe Scolari has turned Chelsea into an "awesome" team who are playing with a panache they lacked under Jose Mourinho. The Blackburn manager, whose side take on the Premier League leaders on Sunday, says the defensive days of the "Special One" are long gone – and that spells danger for the rest of the top flight.

And in terms of finally turning on the style, Ince views Chelsea as on a par with Arsenal and Manchester United.

Ince said: "They are absolutely awesome. Under Mourinho they were a fantastic outfit, one of the best, but had a lot of 1-0 results and based their game on defensive play. Now they play more expansive and attractive football and they are a joy to watch.

"It always was Manchester United and Arsenal you enjoyed watching because of the way they played and now you can add Chelsea to that. Some of their play has been absolutely delightful.

"Chelsea are starting to play with that arrogance that Manchester United and Arsenal have and that makes them very dangerous. We always knew they were solid and now under Scolari their football is different class."

Ince admitted that Chelsea's defeat to Roma in the Champions League on Tuesday night was a result that Rovers could have done without, but insisted that Blackburn have shown this season that they can beat any side on their day.

He added: "They will have been hurt getting beaten by Roma and will probably have a point to prove. We are under no illusions. Technically they are better players than us, they are world-class players, but we can't afford to be in fear of them.

"If we work as hard as we can and get a little bit of luck, then, by playing our football, who knows? We'll have a go at them, that's for sure."

Ince is a good friend of Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, and has highlighted him as the player to stop at Ewood Park. He said: "Frank's a good mate of mine and I'm sure he'll be texting me before Sunday comes. He's definitely the danger man, he's a great, great player who scores goals from all over the pitch – headers, tap-ins, long-range shots, so he's someone we have to be aware of."

Roque Santa Cruz remains a major doubt for the match while Brett Emerton is out with a hamstring injury and will be missing for up to three weeks.

The striker Jason Roberts has signed a new deal. The 30-year-old's new contract will keep him at the club until at least 2011, with the option of a further year. Roberts said: "I've been happy since I've been here for the majority of the time, so I'm happy that it is now signed, sealed and delivered. I hope to show the best of my abilities on the pitch. It is for another three seasons so I'm very happy with that. I feel good, I feel strong, I feel like I've got a lot of experience and hopefully it will all come together now."

Meanwhile, midfielder Steven Reid this week underwent a successful cruciate injury operation performed by knee specialist Richard Steadman in the United States.