Man Utd struggles to find consistency: Villas-Boas
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas is confident his side will end the season as London's top club.
The Premier League winners of 2010 will kick off 11 points behind leaders Manchester City when they welcome Sunderland to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
And they will also begin that match eight points adrift of fellow Londoners Tottenham Hotspur, the club directly above them in third place.
Chelsea fans are not used to being out-performed by the men from White Hart Lane but Villas-Boas believes that though Harry Redknapp's side are in impressive form at the moment, the bigger picture will favour his players.
"They (Totteham) have overtaken Chelsea in the Premier League this season," Villas-Boas said. "Both of them have fantastic history but over the last 10 years there is no comparison between the two clubs.
"The question about good football normally belongs to the leaders. When you are under pressure you don't do things so well and maybe your quality drops. It might be that fact that makes you lose points."
Tottenham moved to within three points of City on Wednesday night -- and nine ahead of fifth-place Arsenal -- by turning a game in hand at home to Everton into a 2-0 but Villas-Boas had anticipated such a scenario.
"It doesn't change a lot as we were expecting Tottenham to win that game," the Portuguese said. "Manchester City lost three in four and Manchester United are trying to find consistency. Eight points is some distance you can shorten."
Former Porto manager Villas-Boas is hoping the £7 million ($10.7million) transfer of England defender Gary Cahill can be concluded in the near future.
Negotiations over wages have been ongoing for a while and it has been suggested Chelsea are close to pulling out if the 26-year-old does not put pen to paper imminently.
But Villas-Boas believed the deal would be completed, saying: "I'm sure that all of the parties are protecting their interests."
Cahill's arrival would allow the Brazilian Alex, who submitted a transfer request in December, to join Queens Park Rangers.
Meanwhile, Chelsea captain John Terry is confident a knee injury sustained in a collision with a post during Sunday's 4-0 FA Cup win over Portsmouth will not rule him out this weekend.
"All is fine," the England skipper said. "It's a little bit swollen but I am sure with the couple of days off we have, it will heal," the defender added.
Sunderland are enjoying life under new manager Martin O'Neill, who replaced the sacked Steve Bruce early in December.
The Black Cats beat Manchester City 1-0 on New Year's Day and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was confident his side could cause another upset.
"It is important when you play the top teams to not just sit back and hope for a 0-0, because eventually they always score," he said.
"You need a few possibilities so they are scared to push themselves further forward. If you keep a clean sheet and you score one, you have done your job."
Sunderland have won five of their seven games under former Aston Villa manager O'Neill and are up to 10th in the table.
"We are now a little bit clear from the bottom three so it is nice to have some breathing space," Mignolet added.
"The results have brought some confidence into the team and given everyone a lift. Now we can look up again."
Sunderland midfielder Jack Colback has been ruled out for up to a month with an ankle injury.
Villas-Boas warns Alex won't leave on the cheap
Chelsea are determined Brazilian defender Alex won't leave in a cut price deal as west London rivals QPR try to make him the first signing of the Mark Hughes era at Loftus Road.
Andre Villas-Boas, the Chelsea manager, confirmed Thursday an offer had been made for Alex, with QPR understood to be the interested club.
It has been reported that QPR made an intial £3 million (ê4.6 million) offer for Alex but Chelsea are understood to want more for the 29-year-old.
"From what I know from my chief executive, there has been an approach from a Premier League club," Villas-Boas said.
"We have respected Alex's transfer request so the market's open for him.
"We're just trying to reach the level of proposal we think is good for the player. Nothing has happened up to now, but we'll listen to all offers.
"We'll present anything to the player.
"He has to make a decision. He has generated interest from a lot of clubs."
Hughes, apppointed in succsssion to the sacked Neil Warnock, said Wednesday of Alex: "There is interest in top-quality players and the player you mention is very much in that level.
Alex, dropped from Chelsea's first-team squad along with Nicolas Anelka after both submitted transfer requests, has previously been linked with Juventus and Paris St Germain.
He has also said he would consider a return to Santos in his native Brazil.
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