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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 May 2007, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Alan Hansen's column
Alan Hansen
By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

The best team always wins the championship - and before the season started everyone expected that team to be Chelsea.

Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand
Vidic and Ferdinand have gelled at the heart of United's defence

But instead it is Manchester United celebrating their first Premiership title in four years.

Part of the reason for that has been the brilliant partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic - who has looked a different player this season - and the form of Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes.

The key, though, has been the overall consistency of United's performances - particularly as Chelsea have been relentless in their pursuit of them.

People might say there are elements of luck involved in winning the title but over 38 league games, I reiterate, the best team always wins.

However, I have to say that there is no great difference between the top two.

There is a view that United play more attractive football than Chelsea. But Chelsea play a different brand, where they tend to look at the opposition, weigh them up and then beat them.

In contrast, United are probably more fluent, quicker on the counter-attack and are probably more exciting to watch.

That does not mean that Chelsea are not as good a team - because they are.

I really don't think there is anything between the two. And next season it will be interesting to see who the bookies make favourites for the title.

I have a hunch that Chelsea will be favourites. Regardless, Chelsea were favourites this season and look what happened.

To a certain extent, the money Chelsea had spent was supposed to negate any injuries, suspensions and loss of form.

But Chelsea did have a couple of critical injuries to goalkeeper Petr Cech and defender John Terry - and it cost them.

Those injures came at a critical time and both players were out for long spells. And you only have to look at Chelsea's record with Cech and Terry and their record without them.

Yet it is hard to say that Chelsea made a mistake by not bringing anyone to the club in January because it would have depended on who they bought.

But, certainly, by not buying anybody, Chelsea were left short of personnel for too long during the season.

Liverpool and Arsenal were the closest challengers to the top two but they must be massively disappointed after finishing so far off the pace.

Before the season I thought Liverpool had a good chance of winning the title but they got off to a terrible start and that ended their challenge right there.

Reaching the Champions League final is a massive consolation for Liverpool but they have not won the league for 17 years - and that is too long.

It has been a great Premiership - but there is a chasm between the top four and the others

Alan Hansen

Manager Rafael Benitez has already stated that Liverpool's priority next season will be the Premiership. If they are to get close, though, he needs to buy one or two 25m to 30m players.

As for Arsenal, the neutrals say they are the best team to watch - and I agree that their passing and movement is as good as anyone's and they are fantastic to watch.

But there is a certain way of playing against Arsenal and I think the lesser teams have cottoned on to it.

Arsenal did very well against the top three but dropped points where they probably shouldn't have.

If they are going to be successful again, they need more of a cutting edge and they have to learn to handle it when teams get in their faces.

There is a massive gap between the top two and the next two but there is hope for Liverpool and Arsenal - and it would be great to see four teams going for the title next season.

It has been a great Premiership - but it has to be said that there is a chasm between the top four and the others.

If Liverpool and Arsenal think it is hard to topple Manchester United and Chelsea, it is almost impossible for anyone else to even break into the top four. The gap is getting bigger and bigger.

And I expect the top four at the end of next season to be the same as this season.

In what order, I don't know. But it's an exciting prospect.

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

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