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Rafa's latest exchange: ''We're the better side''

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has claimed he is the only one to have stood up to Sir Alex Ferguson and says that Liverpool are ''the better side'' in this year's title race.

The Anfield chief has been involved in a tit-for-tat battle with his Old Trafford rival since the turn of the year as the pair scrap for the Premier League title and, on Monday, Liverpool assistant manager Sammy Lee claimed the club were not interested in exchanging words with United.

However, despite Benitez insisting he is not involved in a verbal conflict with Ferguson, the Spaniard once again spoke of his top-flight foe, telling Madrid-based paper ABC: "I'm not having a battle of words with Alex Ferguson. But I believe that he can see that we are the better side, and that we are very close to United.

"He has been accustomed to playing these types of mind games for many years.

"Nobody has ever said anything against him, or stood up to him. It seems like he has a licence to do these sorts of things.

"I try not to talk too much. But all I do when I speak is to defend my own team. I did not say that he seems frightened. I said that he looks nervous, as he can see that we are very close to his team."

Benitez, who saw his side drop points in Tuesday's 4-4 draw with Arsenal, also thinks that a first title in 19 years is still a possibililty despite the champions opening up a three point gap (with a game in hand) in midweek.

He added: "It is essential for us to try to keep the pressure on United. We must not slacken off, and if we keep going that will make them feel under pressure.

"They have an advantage and if they don't slip up there is nothing we can do. But we must stay as close to them as possible in case they slip up.

"In any case, we will go after the title as long as it is still a possibility for us."

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