It is rare that Manchester United need a favour from fierce rivals Liverpool. But that is what it could take if Sir Alex Ferguson's side are to retain the Premier League title - and move one clear of Liverpool for the record with 19 titles. Chelsea's visit to Anfield on May 2 has been pencilled in as the date which could decide the outcome of a race that has swung one way and then another. As Arsenal dropped out of the reckoning with a 3-2 defeat yesterday at Wigan, Carlo Ancelotti's men lead United by just one point with three games left, including home tests with Stoke and Wigan.
It is the trip to Liverpool where they could drop the points that United need to overtake them. Paul Scholes, the match winner against Manchester City on Saturday as United triumphed 1-0, said: "We need favours off teams, we know that. Hopefully we can win all our games and see what happens elsewhere." The pressure is on Chelsea, but Ancelotti has refused to panic. The Chelsea manager could have Ashley Cole, the England left-back with a serious ankle injury, back in time for a game against Stoke on Sunday. Michael Essien, the Ghanaian midfielder who has not played since December, may also play a part in the title run-in.
"Ashley Cole yes, he is ready," Ancelotti said after his side's 2-1 defeat to Tottenham. "We hope Essien will be back before the end of the season. It's very exciting, I always said it will be decided in the last game; until then it will be a fight." firstname.lastname@example.org