6 Apr 2011

Man United desperate to break Stamford Bridge hoodoo

9:08 am on 6 April 2011

Manchester United are chasing their first victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in nearly a decade on Thursday as the English giants collide in a heavyweight Champions League football quarter-final.

United are riding high in the Premier League after a weekend in which they opened up a potentially decisive seven-point lead at the top of the table, leaving them firmly on course for a record 19th title.

But Sir Alex Ferguson is only too aware that there are few more demanding propositions for his team than facing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, where the Red Devils have not won since 2002.

Perhaps more pertinently, Chelsea have won their last three fixtures against United, a sequence which includes last month's stormy 2-1 league defeat that led to Ferguson receiving a five-match touchline ban.

Nevertheless, Ferguson believes his team is more than capable of repeating their 2008 Champions League final victory over Chelsea in Moscow over this year's quarter-final legs.

Chelsea's strong record against United, Ferguson argued, owed as much to good fortune as anything else.

David Luiz, the star of Chelsea's victory over United last month and a key figure in the Blues recent resurgent league form, is ineligible for Champions League duty.

But Carlo Ancelotti's other January transfer buy -- striker Fernando Torres -- is available.

Many observers, Ferguson among them, believe the timing of Chelsea's acquisition of Torres in January was specifically linked to the Spaniard's eligibility for the business end of the Champions League, the only major title that has eluded the Londoners since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich took the club over in 2003.

Ancelotti, whose job may be at risk if Chelsea finish the season without a trophy, denies that winning in Europe has become an obsession for the club.