Champions League exit fuelling Chelsea's charge to league, cup double

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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Michael Ballack believes that Chelsea's elimination from the Champions League triggered a late season domestic charge which could end with the London club's first ever league and cup double.

Knocked out of the last 16 of Europe's premier club competition by Inter Milan last month, having reached the final in 2008, Chelsea is now on a five-game winning run which has yielded up a four-point lead at the top of the Premier League and a place in the FA Cup final.

London -

Michael Ballack believes that Chelsea's elimination from the Champions League triggered a late season domestic charge which could end with the London club's first ever league and cup double.

Knocked out of the last 16 of Europe's premier club competition by Inter Milan last month, having reached the final in 2008, Chelsea is now on a five-game winning run which has yielded up a four-point lead at the top of the Premier League and a place in the FA Cup final.

"To go out of the Champions League against a good opponent can always happen, and of course we have big expectations at this club," Ballack said Friday, as he prepared for a London derby against Tottenham today. "We showed in the last years we are a team that can reach the final.

"Going out early was a big disappointment and we sat together, spoke, rebuilt ourselves and bundled our strengths together again."

Chelsea, which last won the league under Jose Mourinho in 2006, is now 1-4 favourite to win both the league and beat Portsmouth in the FA Cup final May 15.

Among the five wins was a 2-1 victory at previous leader Manchester United and a 3-0 FA Cup semifinal triumph over Aston Villa two weeks after it thumped the same team 7-1 in the Premier League.

"It is important you don't drop your head and, if you beat a team like Man United away, it gives a lot of confidence," Ballack said. "Apart from Inter we have beaten all the big teams this year. We showed again we are still good enough and that's important for the mind.

"Of course it is a long season and it is important we have the mental strength, we are on top of the league and have a big target, a big chance to win two titles and that keeps us fresh in mind as well."

First Chelsea goes to White Hart Lane where Tottenham severely hurt the title hopes of Arsenal on Wednesday with a 2-1 victory over its north London neighbour.

Arsenal is now six points behind Chelsea in third place and manager Arsene Wenger, who is without several players through injury, admits it will be very difficult for his team to win the title for the first time since 2004.

"I don't think Chelsea will drop more than six points now," he said.

Man United's bid to become the first team to win the league title four years in a row could be virtually over if it loses at City today if Chelsea wins at Spurs.

Organizations: Champions League, Aston Villa

Geographic location: London, Europe

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  • Spurs
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    COYS!

  • Spurs
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    COYS!