Cudicini backs Chelsea chances

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Carlo Cudicini has told the Italian media that he is confident Chelsea can knock record-breaking Arsenal out of the UEFA Champions League.

The Italian custodian, currently ruled out with a hand injury, believes Roman Abramovich's billionaires are more than capable of upsetting history to prosper over Arsene Wenger's treble-chasers.

With speculation suggesting Claudio Ranieri's time at Stamford Bridge is coming to a premature end, perhaps only success in Europe could save the affable Italian and Cudicini is confident that this is an obtainable task.

''Arsenal are at the top of the Premier League but it's not ended. We have lost face-to-face clashes but this is because of our mistakes,'' Cudicini told Sportweek.

''Anyway, we are ahead of Manchester United and in the UEFA Champions League quarter final. This is a step forward.

''If I'm not wrong it has been 16 games since we last beat them but heaven knows, this could be the right occasion.

''It is a match of great importance and we will play to achieve a semi-final place and for Premier League revenge.''

Cudicini also revealed that whilst he is forever hopeful of international recognition, a call-up for Euro 2004 is not something at the forefront of his thoughts.

''I think Trapattoni has clear choices and he doesn't have to choose yet,'' continued Cudicini.

''Anyway, the only messages are sent from the pitch. I hope the UEFA Champions League is a shop window in this sense.

''But I'm realistic and don't think about it too much.''