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Last Updated: Monday, 29 October 2007, 12:46 GMT
Alan Hansen's column
Alan Hansen
By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

Cesc Fabregas
Arsenal may be answering questions we posed about their title credentials

The weekend is over and when we all get our breath back after some fantastic football we can all agree on one fact - simply that the Premier League is in great shape.

Arsenal's draw with Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday was a magnificent match. It was packed with world-class talent playing high-quality football and was the perfect advert for everything that is good in our game.

And on Saturday we saw a rejuvenated Chelsea hit six against Manchester City while Manchester United showed once again why they will take some shifting as champions by cruising past Middlesbrough at Old Trafford.

It was a statement of intent from the so-called "Big Four", but I have to start with Arsenal simply because of the way they have matured this season and the fantastic football they played at Liverpool.

I have never held back in my praise of Arsenal's style of play, and have said many times they have produced some of the best football we have ever seen in recent seasons.

But I always had my reservations. They had a wonderful Plan A but where was Plan B? And where was the resilience when teams got a foot in against them and tried to hurry them?

Thierry Henry was one of the greatest players to ever grace the Premiership, but when you are talking about resilience he didn't always have it

Alan Hansen

On the evidence of what we saw at Anfield, we may have the answers.

There is not necessarily a Plan B - but Plan A has just got so much better and so much tougher.

Liverpool were well up for the game, but Arsenal matched them for resilience. They have gained experience, grown and matured and just kept on playing and battling.

Liverpool played really well, but no-one could begrudge Arsenal, or the brilliant Cesc Fabregas, their equaliser.

It is a tribute to Wenger and the team around him that he kept faith with the players, despite two years without a trophy, and after selling their great talisman Thierry Henry.

Wenger is the master of knowing when a player is not necessarily past his best, but past his best for Arsenal, and he has done it again with Henry.

Henry was one of the greatest players to ever grace the Premiership, but when you are talking about resilience he didn't always have it.

When the going got tough there were occasions when he wasn't anywhere near the ball. When he went sulking it affected the team. Sometimes when teams got stuck in he didn't want to know.

Avram Grant
Avram Grant has quietly turned Chelsea's fortunes around

Arsenal fans will disagree because he was such a fantastic player, but the proof of the pudding is in results and their team has had two years without winning anything.

The battle between Steven Gerrard and Fabregas in midfield on Sunday was phenomenal, as good as anything you are going to get, and Wenger is right to feel more optimistic about his team's title challenge after what they produced at Anfield.

As for Liverpool, there are plenty of positives they can take, not least that there is light at the end of the tunnel after their recent indifferent spell.

Fernando Torres was never fit, but their system looked good with Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano holding to allow Gerrard to do what he wanted.

Gerrard was fantastic and it was a performance Liverpool can build on - although injuries to Torres, Alonso and Mascherano are bad news for Rafael Benitez.

I still believe they can win the title although they must be regarded as outsiders. It is just a pity Benitez made changes against Portsmouth and Birmingham when they were flying and it took the momentum out of their season.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
Manchester United look very strong again, and even though I will stick with Chelsea as my choice of champions after starting the season with them, I think Sir Alex Ferguson's side have the appearances of title winners about them again.

Which brings us on to Chelsea, and the rejuvenation that has taken place on the quiet under Avram Grant.

Manchester City were awful, but Chelsea were rampant and Frank Lampard was magnificent. Lampard's pass for Chelsea's second goal, scored by Didier Drogba, was the sort of thing you dream about.

Chelsea showed quality, a will to win and real team spirit. One thing is for certain, and that is those players are playing for Grant, despite all the talk of dressing room unrest.

They have the quality to get right back in the title race - which will be a real thriller if this weekend is anything to go by.

  • Alan Hansen was talking to Phil McNulty



    SEE ALSO
    Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal
    28 Oct 07 |  Premier League
    Gerrard hails fantastic Fabregas
    29 Oct 07 |  Premier League
    Man Utd 4-1 Middlesbrough
    27 Oct 07 |  Premier League
    Chelsea 6-0 Man City
    27 Oct 07 |  Premier League


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