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Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Friday, 2 May 2008 13:13 UK

Schmeichel tips Man Utd for title

By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

Peter Schmeichel
Schmeichel won the Premier League title five times

Former Manchester United keeper Peter Schmeichel is tipping his former club to pip Chelsea to the Premier League title - but only on goal difference.

Schmeichel won the title five times at Old Trafford and was part of the 1999 treble-winning side.

United lead Chelsea on goal difference with two games left this season.

Schmeichel told BBC Sport: "I think the two teams will match each other's results, and not necessarily with each of them winning their last two games."

United and Chelsea also face each other in the Champions League final in Moscow on 21 May as well as battling it out for the Barclays Premier League.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side face West Ham at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime while Chelsea travel to Newcastle on Monday.

606: DEBATE

And Schmeichel added: "I'm not surprised it is such a tight finish. In fact I fully expected it to be tighter because I expected Arsenal to still be involved - I suppose theoretically they still are but realistically it is between Chelsea and United.

"There are still tough games to be played. I remember only too well how West Ham denied us the league at Upton Park in 1995, and Chelsea travel to a Newcastle team who have come into some form now."

Schmeichel admits he was surprised by Ferguson's team selection in the defeat at Chelsea last Saturday, but believes it was a sign of the Scot's gambler's streak.

He said: "I went ballistic when I saw the team and that's talking as a fan. I wanted United to finish the league there and then and I wanted United to end Chelsea's phenomenal home record - but when I saw the team I knew it could be a long day.

"But Sir Alex is a clever man. He is a gambler, but not in a bad sense. He will have calculated scenarios. So he will have played a team that he knows runs the risk of being beaten by Chelsea, but he is prepared to run that risk.

Chelsea know they have to win two league games. That's all they can do because whatever Manchester United do is out of their control

Former Chelsea defender Graeme Le Saux

"He knows goal difference is worth an extra point, he knows he can beat West Ham and Wigan, but he also knows he wants to win the Champions League and wants all his best players fit.

"So I expect United to win the league on goal difference and if they do they will be worthy winners. There has never been an unworthy winner of that title."

Former Chelsea defender Graeme Le Saux is clinging to the hope that his old club can snatch the title away from Old Trafford - but admits the odds are in United's favour.

Le Saux, who like Schmeichel is an ambassador for Premier League sponsors Barclays, told BBC Sport: "It has been an incredible achievement by Chelsea's backroom staff and all the team to go through such a difficult transition and still maintain a fabulous home record, peg back Manchester United and reach the Champions League final.

"I obviously hope they can win the Premier League, but I do say that more in hope than expectation because the advantage is with Manchester United because of their superior goal difference.

"Chelsea know they have to win two league games. That's all they can do because whatever Manchester United do is out of their control."

Chelsea boss Avram Grant, meanwhile, has expressed his disappointment at comments from West Ham counterpart Alan Curbishley after he claimed it would be an injustice if United did not win the title.

Curbishley takes his team to United on Saturday, and Grant said: "Look, I'm not doubting the integrity of West Ham. I don't have a reason to doubt the integrity of Alan Curbishley.

"But I think it's wrong to say things like this because he's involved in the games against United. West Ham won against them in the last three games.

"I don't think it's a good idea to say things like this. I cannot be angry. I will not be angry.

"I do not know what to say about these things, but I think it's wrong. But I do not have any reason to doubt the integrity of him or his club."




see also
How to watch Match of the Day
08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day
Ronaldo wins writers' award again
02 May 08 |  Premier League


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