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Liverpool will not lay down and allow Chelsea victory

Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic tussles with Steven Gerrard at Stamford Bridge last October
Liverpool v Chelsea could decide the destination of the Premier League title

Alan Hansen
By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

If the Premier League title race between Chelsea and Manchester United did not contain enough intrigue already, then the fact that Liverpool will have a big say in where the trophy ends up certainly adds another dimension.

Liverpool fans will find the prospect of a record 19th title for United, outstripping their own tally in the process, unpalatable enough without the possibility of playing a key role in sending the trophy to Old Trafford for a fourth time in succession.

All this talk of Liverpool laying down at Anfield on Sunday and allowing Chelsea the win that would almost certainly clinch them the title is a nonsense in my opinion.

People can be cynical about modern-day footballers, but I do not believe for one minute Liverpool's players will be in the mood to do Chelsea a favour on Sunday

One of the great qualities of the Premier League is the honesty and integrity ingrained in every team. We will see that for ourselves again on Sunday.

But if anyone is in any doubt, cast your mind back to 1995, when Liverpool faced Blackburn at Anfield knowing a win would allow United to claim the title with victory at West Ham.

Not only was there the possibility of a Liverpool victory giving Sir Alex Ferguson's side the title, there was also the prospect of depriving Kenny Dalglish, one of the most-loved and legendary figures in Anfield history, of the honour as Rovers boss.

Liverpool showed no sentimentality to the great icon and won - but Dalglish's Blackburn claimed the Premier League crown because United failed to beat West Ham.

People can be cynical about modern-day footballers, but I do not believe for one minute Liverpool's players will be in the mood to do Chelsea a favour on Sunday.

They still have a chance, albeit an outside one, of finishing fourth and they will also want to go out with a bang in their last game of the season at Anfield after what has been, for the most part, a disappointing campaign.

It will be interesting to discover what team Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez chooses to field and how they approach the game, but we are talking about a proud club here.

And let me assure you, when professional footballers operating at elite level take the field, all they think about is winning.

Not the biggest - Just the best

Liverpool's players will not be going into tackles wondering about United's fate or contemplating how the cards might fall elsewhere if they beat Chelsea.

The majority of Liverpool's fans would rather Chelsea won the league rather than their fierce rivals from Old Trafford, but I firmly believe Benitez's side will give no quarter on Sunday.

In a season of twists and turns, I would not state with huge confidence where I believe the title will end up.

What I do know is that I would prefer the element of certainty in Chelsea's position - they know if they win their last two games they are champions.

You always want your destiny in your own hands, but then Chelsea should have wrapped up the title about 10 weeks ago and have kept letting United back in.

This is a dangerous game. As I have said before, I believe United have been poor for large parts of this season, but they have a habit of getting over the line and getting the job done. They will still have big hopes of retaining the title.

And while Chelsea scored seven and looked magnificent against Stoke, they were poor and were totally outplayed the previous week against Tottenham.

We'll make it tough for Man Utd - Bruce

We wait to see which Chelsea turns up at Anfield. They have faltered several times this season. If they falter again, it may prove to be a very expensive slip.

If we were in any danger of forgetting, United have a tough game of their own later on Sunday at Sunderland (1600 BST).

Again, we have heard talk of Black Cats boss Steve Bruce giving his old manager an easy ride. Again, there is no chance of that happening.

Remember when United went to Bruce's Wigan late last season? Yes, United won, but Wigan gave them a torrid time before Michael Carrick got the winning goal in the dying minutes.

Bruce will be telling his players that they have the chance to have an impact on the title race and will be telling them that this is their opportunity to go out and do themselves proud.

It is a chance for them to claim a huge scalp in front of their own supporters and build on their recent improvement after a poor spell in the middle of the campaign.

It will be a fascinating day on Sunday. Chelsea know exactly what they have to do, but Liverpool will do all they can to stop them.

Alan Hansen was talking to BBC Sport's Phil McNulty.

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Premier League table
Sunday, 3 November 2013 17:56 UK
    P GD PTS
1 Arsenal 10 13 25
2 Chelsea 10 8 20
3 Liverpool 10 7 20
4 Tottenham 10 4 20

5 Man City 10 17 19

6 Southampton 10 7 19
7 Everton 10 4 19
8 Man Utd 10 4 17
9 Newcastle 10 -2 14
10 Hull City 10 -2 14
11 West Brom 10 0 13
12 Cardiff 10 -4 12
13 Swansea 10 0 11
14 Aston Villa 10 -3 11
15 West Ham 10 0 10
16 Fulham 10 -5 10
17 Stoke 10 -4 9

18 Norwich 10 -14 8
19 Sunderland 10 -15 4
20 Crystal Palace 10 -15 3

see also
Sunderland 0-1 Man Utd
02 May 10 |  Premier League
Neville extends Man Utd contract
30 Apr 10 |  Man Utd
Ancelotti unfazed by title battle
26 Apr 10 |  Chelsea
Chelsea 7-0 Stoke
25 Apr 10 |  Premier League
Pressure is on Chelsea - Redknapp
24 Apr 10 |  Man Utd
Man Utd 3-1 Tottenham
24 Apr 10 |  Premier League
Alan Hansen's column
12 Apr 10 |  Premier League

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