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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Keegan vows not to let Blues cruise at St James'

Kevin Keegan has warned Chelsea they will have to be at their best if they are to leave St James' Park with their Barclays Premier League title hopes intact.

The Newcastle boss is relishing the chance to pitch his improving side into battle with the Champions League finalists on Monday knowing they could have a major say in the destiny of this season's championship.

Having rekindled their title hopes with last weekend's victory over Manchester United, Avram Grant's men kept their European dream on track with a gruelling semi-final victory over Liverpool in midweek.

However, Keegan is confident that, for the first time this season, his side will head into the game in the right frame of mind to tackle one of the big four.

He said: 'It's a chance for the players here to test themselves against the very best, probably for the first time this season playing one of the top-four sides while we are in a run or form and while we have got some confidence.

'There's no doubt that should help us. Now whether that will help us enough to play for 90 minutes-plus against a side of Chelsea's calibre and get us a result, that's what we don't know.

'But we are going into the game with an awful lot to play for. We are playing for the biggest thing of all, we are playing for pride.'

Keegan went nine games without a single victory following his return to St James' Park, but since defeating Fulham 2-0 on March 22, his side has not looked back.

Perhaps their most impressive result since they broke the new manager's duck was the 4-1 win at Tottenham a week later, and he is confident a similar performance will give them a good chance of upsetting the odds this time around.

Keegan said: 'There is no doubt about it, Chelsea will expect to come to Newcastle and get something - that's why they are at the top of the league.

'But expecting it and getting it... there is a game of 90-odd minutes in between that needs playing.

'We have a good record against Chelsea at St James' Park over the last few years, so that in some ways will be an inspiration to us.

'But it won't be enough on it's own to help us win. We need a performance, we need to show ourselves in a good light and we need to pick up, I guess, a Tottenham-type performance.

'That, with the crowd behind us, will see us give them a hell of a game.

'If they come through that and they become champions in the next week, 10 days, they will deserve it.'

Keegan hopes to have defenders Abdoulaye Faye and David Edgar fit after groin and head injuries, respectively, although Claudio Cacapa is on stand-by.

Midfielder James Milner will return to the squad after almost two months on the sidelines with a foot problem.