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Stick or twist?

Andy Gray says the title is United's to lose...

The title race is still on and one thing's for certain, there's no room for error for Manchester United.

They'll be buoyant after beating Barcelona and reaching the Champions League final - a result which shows just how good they are.

But they also know that a Premier League game on the back of that, albeit at home against West Ham, won't be easy.

I think if Sir Alex Ferguson was coming into the last week of the season knowing that if he beats West Ham at home and Wigan away the title's there's he would've taken that all day long.

Two wins may not even be required as Chelsea travel to Newcastle on Monday and that's no gimme, so I think that Manchester United will be very confident that they can see the job through.

Chelsea have done well to push them as far as they have, but I do think it would be a big surprise to everyone if United don't win the title from this position.

I think they'll beat West Ham on Saturday, then they hand the batten to Chelsea who have to go to St James' Park against a resurgent Newcastle side.

So that wont be easy, especially after a hugely emotional and physically draining Champions League semi-final.

But they have until Monday, an extra couple of days to recharge the batteries and rest up, so that will be good for them.


Twitchy

If Chelsea do beat Newcastle, then Man Utd have a twitchy last game of the season against Wigan away, on that horrible bumpy pitch. It might be a bit lively and bobbly, it might not be conducive to United's style of play and it might test them.

Wigan held Arsenal at the JJB, they drew with Liverpool at Anfield, so they're no mugs and United will have to play well to beat Steve Bruce's side.

So if Chelsea manage to take Manchester United to the last day then it could be a nervy 90 minutes for the champions, but I would still expect them to come out on top, but maybe not without a little twist and turn during the afternoon.

But United have West Ham before that and of course, they stopped Manchester United from winning the Premier League on the final day in 1995 when they beat them to hand the title to Blackburn, but that was at Upton Park.

Ok, West Ham beat United on the last day of last season at Old Trafford, but that game didn't really mean anything to Manchester United as they had already won the title - it meant everything to West Ham.

There is nothing for Ferguson to do to motivate these players; they know they have to win. And if the game was at Upton Park then it would be a lot tougher for United, but at Old Trafford, on the back of a great win over Barcelona, I cannot see West Ham getting anything from the game.


Great for Grant

It has been a great week for Avram Grant, he has won two huge games against United last Saturday and against Liverpool in midweek.

The accusation levelled at Grant has been that he hasn't won big games. He lost at Old Trafford, lost at the Emirates and lost the Carling Cup final.

But, his substitutions against Arsenal turned it around for them as they came from a goal down to win 2-1, and then of course he won the two must-win games against United and Liverpool.

You can't really do an awful lot more than that. This Chelsea team are never going to play with the flair of Manchester United or Arsenal because of the players they've got - they're more of a functional team, but they play 'winning football' and there's not a lot wrong with that!


Confidence

During a title run-in it can be hugely nerve wracking. And confidence is the key. At Everton in 1984-85 I remember us going to Tottenham at a real crucial stage and everyone was saying it was a title decider.

We went down to White Hart Lane as a team that had never won the league, but we went there full of confidence and belief and we ended up beating them 2-1 and went on to win the title quite comfortably.

And both Manchester United and Chelsea will have that confidence and belief to go on and win their last two games, that's why they're first and second in the league, because they have that belief in their own ability and confidence about their play.

I think it has been a very good season this year in respect that the other teams have made it more difficult to win. In the last three or four seasons the winners have not lost many, of course Arsenal didn't lose any in 2004 and Chelsea only lost one the following season, but United have lost five this season.

You can lose four or five games now and still win the title and that suggests that other teams have stepped up and made it more difficult for the teams at the top.

It's been closer this season, with Arsenal just a fraction away from making this a real three-horse race going into the final week.


Strong

Having an all-English Champions League final is testament to how strong the Premier League is. I would call the Premier League the most powerful league in the world - it might not be the best, it might be everyone's cup of tea, it might not have the flamboyance of La Liga, but it does have an intensity that no other league possesses.

We should get used to this as I would be surprised if there isn't a Premier League side or two in most Champions League semi-finals from now on, certainly for the foreseeable future.

They are that powerful, they are that strong, they do tempt the best players in the world, so we should get used to seeing Premier League sides right at the sharp end of the Champions League for a good few seasons to come.


Source: http://www.skysports.com/experts/expert_story/0,19793,12064_3509458,00.html
 
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