Return of the champions

In between rumours that bookmakers had suspended betting on Luiz Felipe Scolari becoming the next Premier League manager to lose his job and Maradona setting off the Chelsea hotel fire alarm in Manchester early last Sunday morning, fans eagerly anticipated the Old Trafford clash involving two of the three principal championship contenders.

In the event, the title holders brushed the Londoners aside 3-0 to advance to within five points of pacesetters Liverpool, guilty of dropping two points at Stoke 24 hours earlier, with two games in hand.

On this evidence Chelsea are a spent force, Rafa Benitez will do well to maintain his team’s momentum and Sir Alex Ferguson will sit proudly at the head of affairs once more come the end of the season, with Aston Villa and Arsenal looking on from a respectable distance.

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