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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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Fergie dismisses Arsenal threat

Sir Alex Ferguson has written off Arsenal's hopes of catching Manchester United in the Premier League, claiming Chelsea are by far the bigger threat in the title race.

• VDS: United have perfect blend
• Rafael back, Fletcher close
• Cech: Arsenal blew their chance

Chelsea overtook Arsenal in second place on goal difference on Wednesday after dropping way off the pace during a terrible run of form through the middle of the season.

Both sides now sit six points behind United with five games to go and although Arsenal have maintained a far more consistent challenge to United's lead this season, it is Chelsea who Ferguson has always been more worried about. He praised Arsenal's footballing ability but said they lack the qualities he believes make a title-winning side, attributes he instead sees in Chelsea's squad.

"I said a few weeks ago that Chelsea would be our main challengers," he said. "Now they are above Arsenal. Looking at them, Chelsea are far more experienced than Arsenal - strong team, strong experience. Arsenal are better footballers, but Chelsea are the better, stronger team. I recognise that both are six points behind us, both are our challengers. I have that slight preference for Chelsea because their fixture list is a wee bit easier. But they have to come to Old Trafford and that's not going to be easy for them."

Even if United lose two matches from their remaining five, one of Chelsea or Arsenal would have to complete a perfect run home while overcoming United's superior goal difference to steal away the championship. Given that comfortable buffer, Ferguson might be expected to tell his men to simply concentrate on their own fixtures and the task of acquiring the ten points that would guarantee success.

But Ferguson said no such tricks were required and that he is happy to look in the rear-vision mirror as the finish line draws near.

"Looking behind you is not a bad thing to do with our experience. You have to recognise who is behind you. You can't be complacent. If we win against Everton we're down to only four games left, with a minimum of a six points lead. That's the way to look at it. You run out of games eventually."

United meet in-form Everton at Old Trafford in Saturday's early fixture ahead of Chelsea's evening showdown with West Ham at Stamford Bridge, while Arsenal visit Bolton on Sunday afternoon.

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