Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson dismissed Chelsea's Premier League title hopes on Wednesday.
"The title race now is going to be between ourselves and Liverpool," Ferguson wrote in the programme for the home match against Fulham that sent the champions five points clear of Liverpool and 10 ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea.
"However I shall be keeping a wary eye on Aston Villa, who seem to have picked up the baton from Arsenal," continued the 67-year-old in United Review.
Villa are third, eight points behind United, while Arsenal are fifth and 15 points off the pace.
The Scot said he had been shocked by Chelsea's decision to sack Brazilian manager Luiz Felipe Scolari after only seven months in charge but added that the move had "played into our hands."
"Their haste is a reflection of the sad way the game is going, with everyone from owners, the board members, the supporters and the media demanding instant success and showing absolutely no patience in the pursuit of their ambition," said Ferguson, who has been at Old Trafford since 1986.
"I would have thought it self-evident that winning prizes comes with stability and long-term planning," added the league's longest-serving manager.
"Yet so often, when a club is faced with a few problems, wisdom flies out of the window in the hope that a new man can bring about a quick fix."
Ferguson expected Dutchman Guus Hiddink, the Russia national coach who has taken over at Chelsea to the end of the season, to make an impact.
"At the same time, he has to start from scratch, perhaps putting together his own staff and gathering round him players of his choice which may take him some time," he said.
Liverpool's former England defender Jamie Carragher agreed with Ferguson's assessment of the run-in to the title.
"We finished fourth last season, but we have overtaken Chelsea and Arsenal and even though everyone at the club understands that it's not over yet by a long way, at the moment it looks like it is going to be us and Manchester United for the title," he told the club website (www.liverpoolfc.tv/).