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Last Updated: Monday, 11 September 2006, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
Alan Hansen's column
Alan Hansen
By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

The Premiership title cannot be won in August or September - but it can certainly be lost.

We are only a handful of games into the new season but Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham need to start winning.

Steven Gerrard in action for Liverpool at Everton
Liverpool have got to turn it around quickly

Arsenal, for example, have played three times and, despite dominating possession in all of those games, have yet to win.

The Gunners face Manchester United on Sunday - lose that and they will already be 13 points behind Sir Alex Ferguson's team.

Even for a club with so many quality players like Arsenal, trying to make up a 13-point deficit is a massive ask.

Everton's 3-0 win over Liverpool at Goodison Park was a huge victory over their near neighbours.

Every time a team steps on to the pitch at Goodison these days they know they are in for one hell of a game - a very different situation to four or five years ago.

The result is great for their confidence but is hardly ideal for Liverpool's ahead of a big week, with games against PSV Eindhoven and Chelsea.

Liverpool were a little unlucky at Goodison in that they had a couple of penalty shouts turned down and hit the woodwork twice but their overall performance was not great.

Manager Rafael Benitez has good players at his disposal but must make sure that he gets the formation right to produce the kind of results that will restore their confidence to high levels.

Tottenham, likewise, have aspirations of a high finish but, like Arsenal and Liverpool, need to start winning - and soon.

If you are looking for alternatives to Chelsea, who are in my opinion still favourites for the title, I tipped Manchester United and Liverpool at the start of the season.

United have got off to a flying start - they have won their first four games, still have many great players and could conceivably push Chelsea all the way.

David James, Glen Johnson and Sol Campbell - 90% of clubs in the Premiership would have taken those three

There are bigger and harder tests to come for Sir Alex Ferguson's team but they can only beat what is in front of them and the major consequence of their excellent start is the pressure it puts on other teams.

Last season there was hardly any pressure on Chelsea but this term it could be very different - and it will be interesting to see how they cope.

Portsmouth are the only Premiership team yet to concede a goal and are second in the table.

Last season when I looked at their line-up I was not sure whether they would stay up.

After their first couple of games this season I thought there was no way they would go down - and that is credit to their manager Harry Redknapp.

Their defensive unit includes David James, Glen Johnson and Sol Campbell - all three had critics last season but you cannot get away from the fact they were all in England squads.

James has gone walkabout many times but is a very competent keeper, Johnson will mature into a very good player as he gains experience and Campbell has seen and done it all.

The three players have cost Pompey less than 2m and I think that 90% of the Premiership would have been keen on that sort of business.

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Alan Hansen columns

Barclays Premier League Table
01 February 2010 22:00
    P GD PTS
1 Chelsea 23 38 54
2 Man Utd 24 36 53
3 Arsenal 24 32 49
4 Tottenham 24 20 42

5 Liverpool 24 16 41

6 Man City 22 14 41
7 Aston Villa 23 13 40
8 Birmingham 23 -1 34
9 Everton 23 -1 32
10 Blackburn 24 -15 28
11 Fulham 23 -2 27
12 Stoke 22 -7 26
13 Sunderland 23 -10 24
14 Wigan 22 -23 22
15 West Ham 23 -9 21
16 Bolton 22 -15 21
17 Wolverhampton 23 -21 21

18 Burnley 23 -23 20
19 Hull 23 -26 20
20 Portsmouth 22 -16 15

SEE ALSO
Arsenal 1-1 Middlesbrough
09 Sep 06 |  Premiership
Man Utd 1-0 Tottenham
09 Sep 06 |  Premiership
Everton 3-0 Liverpool
09 Sep 06 |  Premiership
Portsmouth 1-0 Wigan
09 Sep 06 |  Premiership


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