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Last Updated: Friday, 14 December 2007, 14:52 GMT
Pat Nevin's verdict
Pat Nevin
By Pat Nevin
Former Chelsea and Scotland star

The Premier League's top four cross swords on Sunday when Manchester United visit Liverpool and Arsenal face Chelsea at the Emirates.

No titles will be decided, but there is always the opportunity to make a statement and I think any team that emerges with a win will get a massive boost.


I think this will be the best game of the two, and there is an interesting back-drop from the Liverpool angle given that their co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are in town to try and settle recent differences with manager Rafael Benitez.

It's incredible that there is an unsettled feeling around Anfield considering what a fantastic team Benitez has put together and his phenomenal record, especially in winning the Champions League.

I suspect what has frustrated some of the media and fans is that they know the team is actually good enough to be at the top of the Premier League and they can be as good as any of the other top teams.

They can be the best, but they can't seem to do it regularly.

I really thought this would be the year Liverpool would come through and, if not be champions, at least be contesting the title right up until the last week of the season.

The areas where Liverpool can trouble United are obvious - they have two world-class talents in Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard.

Fernando Torres
Fernando Torres has looked spectacular and will be a massive threat to Manchester United

Pat Nevin on Liverpool's new golden boy

Torres is outstanding, as good as anything you have got in the Premier League with the possible exception of Chelsea's Didier Drogba.

It will be an open game and hopefully the talent on both sides can flourish.

United are a very attacking side, and Liverpool are very capable of being an attacking side with Benitez having several options tactically.

Torres will be a huge danger. He can look unstoppable and make it look like men against boys.

United will have noted his display in Marseilles in midweek when he made their central defenders look hopeless, and Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic will have to be at their best.

And then we come to Gerrard, who is in a fantastic run of form with a goal in each of Liverpool's last seven games.

When I saw him earlier in the season and he was struggling, it was almost a sight to behold because you know what brilliance he is capable of. It is unusual to see him out of sorts.

United will be aware of how he can strike forward from midfield, with Torres striking from attack, and Gerrard knows how to get himself up for games like this one.

The key word for United is invention - it is their invention that scares defenders and this is what will be worrying Benitez and the Liverpool rearguard.

Carlos Tevez is in phenomenal form and answering all the questions people asked when Sir Alex Ferguson paired him with Wayne Rooney.

Ferguson realised they could play together, such is their intelligence and ability.

There is no big striker in United's line-up, but Sir Alex knows what he wants from his team and he also knows what is predictable and ensures his team avoids it.

When Tevez is at his best he is as good as Rooney - put them together at their best and you have a blistering strike force when you add Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs.

It's got the makings of a high-quality game, and you could make a case for either side nicking it, but I would go for a draw - not sitting on the fence, I just think it will be a draw.


This will be an intriguing game, with Arsenal having a little wobble and Chelsea ticking over very quietly, but highly effectively.

Avram Grant has done very well at Chelsea since succeeding Jose Mourinho. He's not changed a lot and his record has been brilliant.

Chelsea are missing the injured Drogba, which is a huge loss, but I think they might fancy this game after Arsenal had the little blip people were waiting for.

How will the Gunners react?

Andriy Shevchenko
Andriy Shevchenko is still a natural goalscorer given the right system

Pat Nevin on Chelsea's Ukrainian striker

They will be hoping to have Cesc Fabregas back, but in some respects this may be the worst time for Arsenal to play Chelsea.

I believe Chelsea will adapt their tactics to try and get the best out Andriy Shevchenko.

Instead of playing the ball up towards a striker who is effectively a one-man forward line, they should spend their whole time planning on how to get around the back of full-backs. This is the approach I believe they will adopt.

If Chelsea can do that and get the ball into middle, Shevchenko will score because he can still do that.

There are other things he can't do now, but he is still a natural goalscorer.

I also get the sense that Arsenal might struggle to score against Chelsea. Petr Cech is back in goal and they look solid in defence and midfield.

If Chelsea can keep that clean sheet, I think they are capable of nicking a goal.

  • Pat Nevin was talking to Phil McNulty

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