Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has cranked up the pressure on Manchester United and Arsenal by insisting neither of them could afford to make another mistake in the Barclays Premier League this season.
In what some might construe as the beginning of the managerial mind games for the run-in, Ancelotti reiterated his own side needed to win their nine remaining matches to stand any chance of completing one of the great title comebacks.
The Italian also claimed any further mistakes by United and Arsenal would see the top two pay the ultimate price and miss out on the championship.
"To make a mistake now is very dangerous," said Ancelotti, whose side will take to the field at Stoke on Saturday afternoon looking to pounce on any United slip-up at West Ham. "Make a mistake here you can lose your possibility to win something."
He added: "It's not just for us. Also Manchester United, also Arsenal. They cannot make a mistake either."
Chelsea are nine points behind United with a game in hand and four adrift of Arsenal.
The champions retaining their title looked unthinkable a month ago as they languished 15 points off top spot, but a perfect March, which co-incided with a serious blip by their rivals, resurrected their hopes ahead of what will be a season-defining month. And on May 8 they have to visit Old Trafford in the Premier League.
"Always, in April, at the end of the season, you have to play calmly," said Ancelotti, whose side also take on United in the Champions League quarter-finals over the next 12 days.
"For me, we are ready to play. Three months ago, November or December, it would have felt like a dream to arrive in this situation now.
"I don't know what we will achieve in the end, but we have a possibility to fight.
"Maybe we'll lose the game, but my idea is the team have a good sensation."
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