Football

Published: Saturday April 19, 2014 MYT 12:22:07 AM
Updated: Saturday April 19, 2014 MYT 12:22:45 AM

Curve balls to come in title race, says Chelsea's Holland

LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea assistant manager Steve Holland believes there are plenty of curve balls to come in the Premier League title race and bottom side Sunderland could provide one of those when they travel to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Chelsea, who have 75 points from 34 matches, trail leaders Liverpool by two points but with Brendan Rodgers's side not in action until Sunday, a win over Sunderland would send them back to the top of the table.

But Holland is aware that beating Gus Poyet's struggling is easier said than done as they drew 2-2 with Manchester City on Wednesday and were only denied victory by Samir Nasri's 88th- minute strike.

"Sunderland were excellent in the week at Man City and were minutes away from being only the second team in the Premier League to win there this season, so tomorrow will be a very difficult game," said Holland, who spoke to reporters in place of manager Jose Mourinho on Friday.

"We have to approach it in a professional manner. This game is of huge importance.

"I personally don't subscribe to the view that this league title will be decided by one match.

"There are enough difficult games left for all the clubs to suggest there may be other curve balls thrown in."

Saturday's game kicks off vital a week for Chelsea, which could determine the success of their season as they play Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-final first leg on Tuesday before travelling to Liverpool in the league on Sunday.

But Holland, who will be without forward Eden Hazard with a calf injury that makes him doubtful for the Atletico game, remains focused on taking each match as it comes.

"We have as much desire to win the Premier League as we do the Champions League," he added.

"The full focus at the moment is Sunderland tomorrow and trying to put out the best team possible that we think will have success in that game, and then first thing on Sunday morning our minds are on to Atletico."

With a trip to Anfield on the horizon, Holland said continuity has been the key to Liverpool's successful season as they have been able to select a similar side for much of the campaign and have not been involved in European competition.

"That (continuity) is much harder to do when you play twice a week because you have to use a pool of players and rotate them," added Holland.

"In this situation that really is the trick - you have to pick the right ones for the right games but keep the continuity for the team.

"You are aware the more changes you make the more likely it is for things not to go the way you would like them to go."

(Reporting by Michael Hann, editing by Ed Osmond)

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