Ince relishes physical challenge from ChelseaBLACKBURN, England- Paul Ince, the Blackburn Rovers manager, faces Chelsea on Sunday expecting the Premiership title hopefuls to provide his team with a strong, physical challenge.
In a week in which Arsene Wenger publically criticised Stoke City for their physical approach in the recent victory over Arsenal, the issue of underdog teams trying to out-muscle the Premiership elite has been to the fore.
But Ince, a former midfielder well known for relishing the physical side of the game in his own playing days, believes that Chelsea are now capable of mixing both styles of football.
"Chelsea can do both sides of the game now. They can play and they can also handle the physical side of the game," said the former England international.
"You look at the likes of John Terry, Carvalho, John Obi-Mikel and you can see that they are a big side.
"Last season, they had a lot of 1-0 wins, so that shows they are a team well capable of defending a lead. They defend, they can tackle and they are strong players.
"But since Luiz Scolari came in, he has taken them to another level and they are now playing Manchester United-style football. So that makes them twice as hard to beat because they are top notch at both aspects.
"They have world-class players, so when you come up against them, you have to rely on your work ethic and getting in people's faces to get results against the big boys.
"But when the big boys are capable of exactly the same thing, but with world-class players, they are going to out-play you and you can't do anything about it. That's a fact."
Ince, a former favourite with Manchester United and Liverpool, believes those two clubs are genuine title contenders, along with the team he faces at Ewood Park on Sunday.
And the Blackburn manager finds it difficult to separate the three early-season pace setters. "Are Chelsea better than United? I don't think so, and you shouldn't forget Liverpool in there either," he said.
"They've changed as a team and the players seem to be enjoying what they are doing. With the likes of Deco in there, Chelsea are now playing football the way it should be played. We just need to hope they have an off day if we are to get the win.
"But if Hull and Stoke can beat Arsenal, then there is no reason why we can't beat Chelsea."
Scolari, however, has been shocked at the physical style of Premiership football despite making an instant, and impressive, impact on English football.
"Yes, I have been surprised at how physical it is," he said. "You never look at a club in English football and think their players are small. They all have big bodies.
"Sometimes, there is more physical contact in games but, hopefully, we're not bad at that.
"All the teams have a minimum ten players who are about 1m 90cm (6'3") so sometimes you need to do something different in training because you are playing against a team that has six or seven players inside your area and that makes a big problem for us because we're not that big.
"We need some strategic movements to control the game and control throw-ins and corner kicks."
Scolari is expected to hand veteran Brazilian midfielder Mineiro his debut on Sunday with Nigeria midfielder John Mikel Obi making way as a result of the mistakes which contributed to two of Roma goals in their 3-1 midweek win over Chelsea in Rome.
England defender Ashley Cole misses the trip with a calf problem while Michael Essien, who had knee surgery earlier in the season, and Michael Ballack (foot) are long-term absentees.