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Transfer Rater: Ox to Everton, Obiang to Anfield?

By ESPN Staff

Ferguson wants two-horse title race

Sir Alex Ferguson has his fingers crossed this season's title race goes right down to the final day. After matching Chelsea stride for stride during the opening 10 games of the current campaign, hopes are high around Old Trafford that United can maintain their challenge throughout.

Bolton boss Sam Allardyce suggested the contest would come down to a straight battle between Chelsea's resilience and United's flair.

The fear persists that Chelsea's greater durability, not to mention their vast resources, will eventually see them forge clear to complete a hat-trick of Premiership titles.

Deep down Ferguson must wonder the same too, which is possibly why, if a last-day shoot-out was offered now, the Scot admits he would gladly accept it.

'I hope Sam is right and it turns out to be a battle between the two of us,' he said.

'I would take a photo-finish right now. I would take it going down to the last game of the season, depending on goal difference. I think we would win it then.

'Sam makes a fair point about Chelsea's resilience. We have to develop the resistance they have already proved.

'They are hard to beat and difficult to knock down, which are traits worth admiring.

'There are all different ways of being successful. It doesn't mean to say the Manchester United way is the right way all the time.'

Two of Ferguson's eight title triumphs were completed with last-day victories, the treble-winning effort in 1999 and his latest success in 2003 at Everton.

But it is the failure in 1995 which probably lingers longer in the memory when United started the day behind Blackburn, then failed to get the win required at West Ham to leapfrog Rovers, who were simultaneously losing at Liverpool.

The truly amazing statistic is that 25 points from 10 games represents United's joint best Premiership start, equalling their record of 13 years ago when they collected an incredible 40 points from their opening 15 games on the way to a first domestic double.

However, United were only three points worse off at the same stage three seasons ago when they looked set to fight Arsenal to the death until their form collapsed after Rio Ferdinand began an eight-month ban for his missed drugs test.

Nevertheless, the fact the Red Devils are not playing catch-up already is a huge relief given they were already 13 points adrift of Chelsea at the same point 12 months ago.

'The last two years have been difficult because Chelsea's starts have made it difficult,' said Ferguson.

'At least this time we have made a good start. Historically, we have never done that.

'We are in a very good position now. It gives us an opportunity to stay with Chelsea and it is important to stay with them.'