Brown to start for United with Ferdinand out of Anfield clash

Vidic suspended and the defender Ferdinand is injured for crucial encounter as Chelsea maintain slip title hopes.

Manchester United's injured defender Rio Ferdinand will miss the Premier League leaders' trip to face fierce rivals Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager, said.

With Nemanja Vidic suspended after being sent off for a second yellow card in Tuesday's 2-1 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Wes Brown will play alongside Chris Smalling in central defence.

"[Rio] won't be fit. Wes will take over," Ferguson told the club's television channel, MUTV. "He has great experience."

Brown, 31, has played only five league games for United this season. The 32-year-old Ferdinand injured a calf in the warm-up before United's 2-1 league defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers on February 5 and the England captain has not played since.

United are four points clear of second-placed Arsenal, who have a game in hand, while sixth-placed Liverpool are a massive 21 points off the pace.

Meanwhile, Petr Cech admits Chelsea must still rely on a Manchester United meltdown if they are to stand any chance of retaining their Premier League title.

Chelsea kept their slim hopes of overhauling United alive by beating them 2-1 on Tuesday night to close to within 12 points of the leaders with a game in hand.

Cech, the goalkeeper, told his official website, "It is a very important win and it was our only hope of retaining at least some chance of winning the title.

"There are still 33 points in play for, so it may happen. But it all depends on Manchester and whether they will feel the effects of this defeat. They still have it in their own hands and 12 points is a good lead. We have to keep winning.

"We have just made the first step but we are satisfied with the result and with the fact that we have moved into fourth and are just two points behind Manchester City."

Chelsea play United again in May and Cech added: "We are yet to play at Old Trafford and, if we could succeed there, it would take us even closer to United."

Though Chelsea beat United, Fernando Torres failed to get on the score sheet and has now gone four games without scoring since his record-breaking £50 million (Dh295m) move from Liverpool.

The Spaniard said it was always going to take him time to settle at Chelsea and is confident the goals will flow once he adjusts to the club's style of play.

"It's important to understand the style of football your team is playing, how you are involved in the system and everything," Torres told Chelsea magazine.

"This always takes some time. But, I think, once you get it, everything becomes much easier."