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By ESPN Staff

Robson: All-England semi-final a close call

Sir Bobby Robson believes Chelsea can finally end their Liverpool jinx in the Champions League.

Chelsea lost out to Liverpool in the semi-finals twice in the last three years but the former England and Newcastle manager believes Avram Grant's side are favourites this time.

Robson said: 'Everyone has been talking about Manchester United and Liverpool and Arsenal. Fair enough, but Chelsea gave been chipping away and getting good results. They create very well and maybe have the best and deepest squad.

'Liverpool v Chelsea is a close call but the second leg is at Stamford Bridge this time and that could make the difference.

'At Anfield, Liverpool have just seemed time after time in European matches to have this ability to be able to pull something out of the bag.'

Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier also rates Chelsea's squad.

He said: 'Look at Chelsea's bench against Fenerbahce - it was incredible: Mikel, Anelka, Malouda, Shevchenko and Belletti.

'Perhaps the reason Arsenal lost against Liverpool was because they do not have the same strength in depth.'

Meanwhile, Robson insisted the number of foreign players in the Premier League should not be used as an excuse for England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008.

Robson, speaking at the Soccerex London Forum at Wembley Stadium, said: 'Our academies have got to work better, we've got to produce better young players and, if we do, we'll be able to compete every two years and the English football team will be at a competitive level again.

'But when you see our Premier League, which is probably the best league in Europe, it's hard to understand that we haven't qualified for Euro 2008.

'At the same time you only really need to develop 25 top players.

'The influx of foreign players have enhanced our league, there's no doubt. You cannot say that the likes of Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Michael Essien haven't enhanced our league - of course they have.

'But all you need to do is develop and find and search for 25 top players and, despite the influence of foreign players, we should be able to do that.'