Ranieri uses fear factor to fend off United threat

Claudio Ranieri, the Chelsea manager, will apply the fear factor to motivate his side ahead of a difficult trip to Aston Villa today. The Italian has already conceded the Premiership title to Arsenal, and yesterday he warned his squad that Manchester United "are a big shark" lurking behind them in third place and they "can still easily overtake us".

Claudio Ranieri, the Chelsea manager, will apply the fear factor to motivate his side ahead of a difficult trip to Aston Villa today. The Italian has already conceded the Premiership title to Arsenal, and yesterday he warned his squad that Manchester United "are a big shark" lurking behind them in third place and they "can still easily overtake us".

Ranieri rested Damien Duff, Wayne Bridge, the midfielder Scott Parker and Mario Melchiot for the goalless draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday, but will almost certainly recall them all at Villa Park, as well as the strikers Adrian Mutu and Hernan Crespo.

Ranieri is waiting for the results of a scan on Claude Makelele's knee injury after he was taken off following a second-half clash with Boro's Gaizka Mendieta, but he will not start with his fellow midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron, who has returned from injury.

Ranieri's Liverpool counterpart, Gérard Houllier, has admitted that the final 34 days of Liverpool's traumatic season are going to demand nerves of steel from everyone at Anfield.

Following Friday's 4-2 defeat by Arsenal, Houllier believes Liverpool may need to win all their remaining six games to secure a Champions' League spot, and the examination of his side's European pretensions starts at home to Charlton Athletic, who have slipped recently in their quest for fourth spot.

Victory over Charlton would put Liverpool three points clear of Newcastle United and maintain at least a three-point gap over Birmingham City, and keep them at least four points clear ofAston Villa, while Charlton would be left eight points adrift. A Liverpool win could virtually eliminate all but Newcastle from the battle, and if nothing else, make fifth place and Uefa Cup qualification a near certainty.

Houllier is unlikely to make any significant changes with Chris Kirkland (broken wrist), Steve Finnan (shoulder) and Anthony Le Tallec (ankle) still injured. Danny Murphy could come into contention in midfield while Vladimir Smicer, fit again after an Achilles injury, is likely to be added to the bench.

At the other end of the table, Blackburn Rovers have a chance to pull clear of the relegation pack at Fulham. There was, predictably, fighting talk from their manager, Graeme Souness. "This is a fight which is getting more interesting and it will sort the men out from the boys," he said. "You are either a proper player or someone who throws the towel in, and I believe I've a lot of people in my dressing-room who will roll their sleeves up."

Suggested Topics
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas