Sat, Dec 23, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Drogba may be key to Chelsea's

AP , LONDON

Didier Drogba may be the key if Chelsea ends up winning a third straight Premier League title.

Having scored in the Blues' last three games, he may start at Wigan today.

In between scoring late winners against Newcastle in the league and League Cup, Drogba hit a dipping long-range shot to seal Sunday's 3-2 win at Everton that cut Manchester United's lead to two points.

If the Ivory Coast striker maintains that form over a Christmas and New Year period that has clubs each playing four matches in 10 days, Chelsea could have a great chance of matching United as the only team to have won three straight Premier League titles.

Drogba is the league's leading scorer with 17 goals, 11 more than Andriy Shevchenko, who made way for Drogba in Wednesday's 1-0 League Cup quarterfinal victory over the Magpies.

"Everything he seems to hit at the moment goes in," Chelsea assistant manager Steve Clarke said.

On current form, it is difficult to find a striker better than Didi. Not just for his goals, but for his all-around contribution," Clarke said.

Wigan are missing key striker Henri Camara for six weeks because of a knee injury and midfielder Lee McCulloch on a three-match ban.

As a result manager Paul Jewell has recalled Poland under-21 midfielder Tomasz Cywka from a loan spell at Oldham Athletic.

Manchester United, which have 44 points, is at Aston Villa seeking to rally from last week's 1-0 loss to West Ham, which was under manager Alan Curbishley for the first time.

Manager Alex Ferguson is hoping the imminent arrival of former Sweden striker Henrik Larsson on loan will boost the squad. However, he can't play until next month.

"He has come at a good time," Ferguson said. "It looks as though the championship race is going to go the whole road. Players like Henrik will only help us with that."

Also playing today: Fulham vs. West Ham; Arsenal vs. Blackburn; third-place Liverpool vs. Watford; Manchester City vs. Bolton; Middlesbrough vs. Charlton; Newcastle vs. Tottenham; Portsmouth vs. Sheffield United; and Reading vs. Everton.

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