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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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Fabregas the focus vs. Arsenal

Chelsea
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By ESPN Staff

Rio celebrates hitting Kop title hopes

Rio Ferdinand has claimed victory at Anfield for Manchester United tasted especially sweet this season because Liverpool have started to fancy their title chances once more. It is 17 years since the Merseyside giants won the last of their 18 league titles, yet optimism was high before the campaign began that this would be the year that barren run came to an end. Instead, Rafael Benitez's men look as far away from their Holy Grail than ever following a fifth home defeat in six years to their fierce north-west rivals. Although it is far too early to write Liverpool off completely, they are now 10 points adrift of Barclays Premier League leaders Arsenal and nine behind United. Indeed, they are not even in the top four, having been squeezed out by Manchester City over the weekend. 'As a Manchester United player, there are not many tastes better than winning at Anfield, especially as Liverpool feel as though they are going very well and had a really good chance to beat us,' said England defender Ferdinand. 'They thought they had the players to win this time. 'We have nicked a few results against them over the years but this time I thought we were well worth it. They hardly caused us any problems at all.' United did survive a couple of scares when Anderson and Patrice Evra were forced to clear off the line but, long before the end, Liverpool had resorted to blasting a series of high balls into the visitors box. Ferdinand may not be noted quite so much as defensive partner Nemanja Vidic for sticking his head in where it hurts but, between them, United's centre-halves won everything, even after Peter Crouch had been introduced. The 29-year-old former Leeds star, who hobbled out of Anfield after having stitches inserted into a nasty gash on his ankle, was reluctant to take too much praise along with his man-of-the-match champagne, insisting it had been a team effort. 'I do have a fantastic partnership with Nemanja but results like these are not about one or two players,' he said. 'If the other lads around us aren't defending or running their socks off, it makes our job at the back a lot harder. There were big performances all over the park from a lot of different players.'