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Page last updated at 05:47 GMT, Saturday, 10 May 2008 06:47 UK

Rivals bullish over title decider

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Grant believes Bolton will provide a tough test for his side

Sir Alex Ferguson raised the pressure ahead of Sunday's Premier League finale by claiming Bolton's players had been "out all week celebrating".

Manchester United need to at least match Chelsea's result at home to Bolton when they travel to Wigan.

United boss Ferguson said: "One team is all keyed up to play Manchester United and the other one is celebrating".

Meanwhile, Avram Grant believes Chelsea deserve the title as they are playing the best football in England.

Grant said of his title-chasers: "I think in the last month we have been playing the best football."

Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 20 league games stretching back to a 1-0 loss at Arsenal on 16 December, the only league defeat of Grant's reign since his opening match in charge at Old Trafford in September.

Nobody expected we would come to this stage but we believed all the time

Avram Grant
As well as beating United at home and winning at Everton and Newcastle in recent weeks, the Blues also emerged victorious from their Champions League semi-final with Liverpool.

"We have played it [the best football] at the right time against big teams and managers," Grant added.

Chelsea and United go into the final day level on 84 points at the top - the first time such a situation has occurred in England's top flight since 1968, when United, who lost 2-1 to Sunderland, were pipped to the title by rivals Manchester City, 4-3 winners at Newcastle.

United's vastly superior goal difference of 17 (+56 to +39) this year means they just need to win to guarantee the title.

Grant believes that if teams are tied on points after the final game, an extra one-off game should decide the title, as it does in Serie A.

"I prefer the system in Italy. If you have the same points you play a play-off and it is decided on that," he said.

606: COMMENT
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
"Of course, I have interest now to say that, but I like it anyway. Sometimes, you score more goals against the weakest teams. If you have the same points, you are at the same level so you need to play to see who is the better."

If Chelsea are pipped at the post on Sunday however, Grant insists he still be happy with how his side has performed.

"Alex said two or three months ago that this is the best Manchester United team since he was coaching," he added.

"But if they take the title it will be on goal difference, so we have given them a good battle. I'm very proud of the players.

"I'm not surprised because I'm with the team every day. I know nobody expected that we would come to this stage but we believed all the time.

"We played good most of the time but we have developed in the last month in games that were important to us."

This has the makings of a very good team. I like them. We have the players to do it

Sir Alex Ferguson
The build-up to Sunday's Premier League finale has been dominated by talk of the opposition both Manchester United and Chelsea will face.

Wigan, managed by former United captain Steve Bruce, have vowed to do all they can to beat his former side, while Bolton's players have reportedly been celebrating after effectively securing their Premier League status by beating Sunderland last week.

And Ferguson raised doubts about Bolton's commitment following the players' visit to a Manchester bar on Monday.

"People are talking about Wigan's integrity but no one has even mentioned Bolton," he said.

"All we have seen is Wigan players saying how they will beat us. Fine, I've no problem with that.

"Then you hear about Bolton players out all week celebrating. Both teams are safe but one is all keyed up to play Manchester United and the other one is celebrating.

"The only thing that gives me confidence about Bolton is the manager and assistant manager.

Owen Hargreaves is in confident mood ahead of a massive week for Man Utd

"I worked with (Bolton assistant) Archie Knox for many years at Aberdeen and United.

"I wish he was playing because he will not enjoy having his players out celebrating and neither will Gary Megson.

"It is an important game. I am confident in these two guys taking their team to Chelsea."

Megson denied his players had been celebrating as Bolton are not yet mathematically safe from relegation, although it is highly unlikely.

"I can assure Sir Alex and everybody else we will be going into the chelsea game as prepared as we possibly can be - we'll be giving it everything we possibly can on the day."

Grant is convinced that Megson's team will provide a stern test.

"Alex knows everything. I like and respect him but we know why he says things sometimes. I don't think he knows what's happening in Bolton," Grant added.

"I think Bolton are almost safe but I don't think they will play like the game is not important. They will try to do their best.

"Wigan haven't lost at home since January, they played fantastic against us and they know they are in the spotlight. All over the world everybody is watching so I think they will do their best."

Ferguson believes his current side can be compared to some of the greatest he has assembled in his 22 years at Old Trafford - if they continue to add more trophies to last year's Premier League crown.

"You are judged on what you win, so the 1999 team stands apart from the rest because they won the treble," he added.

"The mental and physical strength of the 1994 team (which won the league and FA Cup double) was fantastic. They were never messed about and could handle anything.

"But this has the makings of a very good team. I like them. We have the players to do it."




see also
Wigan v Man Utd
08 May 08 |  Premier League
Chelsea v Bolton
08 May 08 |  Premier League
Grant and Young win April awards
09 May 08 |  Premier League
Bruce vows Wigan will give 100%
08 May 08 |  Premier League
Pressure now on Man Utd - Grant
06 May 08 |  Chelsea
Schmeichel tips Man Utd for title
02 May 08 |  Premier League
How to watch Match of the Day
08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day


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