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Ferguson salutes 'massive' United win

sports Updated: Apr 14, 2008 08:38 IST
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Sir Alex Ferguson hailed his Manchester United side's 2-1 victory over Arsenal at Old Trafford as a decisive moment in this season's Premier League title race.

Victory moved United six points clear of second-placed Chelsea, who can reduce that gap to three points with a home win over Wigan on Monday.

But with just four league games remaining, Ferguson is convinced his men have now taken a massive step towards the successful defence of their title.

Next up for the Scot's side are Blackburn and victory at Ewood Park will mean United can all but take the title if they beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on April 26.

"I said if we win our next three games we would be champions," said Ferguson after seeing United come from 1-0 down to win thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's coolly-taken penalty and Owen Hargreaves's superbly struck free-kick.

"We have got over a nervous day today (Sunday)," Ferguson added. "We've got a week's rest now, get them freshened up before Blackburn away.

"The players knew this was a massive game today. Arsenal and ourselves have been competing for trophies for 15 or 16 years and the games are always so emotionally tight and this was another one."

Ferguson agreed his team had been fortunate to beat an Arsenal side who had gone ahead in the 48th minute through Emmanuel Adebayor as they tried to keep their season alive after last week's Champions League exit against Liverpool.

"The quality of this game was outstanding," Ferguson said as he reflected on another compelling United-Arsenal clash .

"There won't be a better game this year. They were the better team in the first-half. I thought we were very nervous and our passing was poor and I couldn't wait to get to half-time.

"When Arsenal scored they forced my hand, and I had to bring on Anderson and Carlos Tevez. That was a pivotal moment and we were fantastic after that, played some good football, and it was just an incredible game."

Victory would have hauled Arsenal back into the title race, moving them to within three points of United.

Instead, Arsene Wenger and his players were forced to admit that, at nine points adrift of top spot, they were out of the race having been five points in front as recently as February.

Arsenal have been criticised for an inability to turn impressive performances into wins but their French manager insisted there would be no compromising when it came to the Gunners' approach next season.

"I believe the gap between success and failure is very thin and I didn't feel that today we were inferior technically speaking and in terms of quality," he said.

"I feel we have done a lot to promote the Premier League all over the world this season. I'm not an idealist, I want to win trophies and I am sad we haven't won a trophy," Wenger insisted.

"We want to win trophies by playing the way we do but we want to do it better. That will come.

"But we have to go beyond the situation we have now where the praise given to winners is beyond reason while those who don't win are slaughtered beyond reason," he added.

"We feel there is not a big difference between ourselves and the other teams. We play quality football because we think that is the way to win trophies. We have lacked maturity defensively at times this season but that will come."