Fergie Sees Gunners Showdown as Key to Catching Chelsea

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By Ian Whittell BOLTON Sir Alex Ferguson believes a meeting with on-form Arsenal next Sunday will determine whether Manchester United can really turn the screw on Chelsea in a Premiership title run-in that has suddenly had an element of suspense injected into it. Ferguson’s rampant squad racked up an eighth successive league victory at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium on Saturday to cut the champions’ lead to seven points with six games to play. In an unexpected twist to a title race that for so long appeared to be heading Chelsea’s way, goals from Louis Saha and Ruud van Nistelrooy secured a 2-1 victory for United, leaving them as the first team to win at the Reebok since the opening weekend of the campaign. With Chelsea due to host United at the start of May, Ferguson believes Jose Mourinho’s men could yet succumb to the pressure of being pushed all the way to the finishing line. “This has asked a question of Chelsea,” said Ferguson. “Obviously everyone expected them to beat Birmingham and they still have to come here to Bolton and they’ve got to go to Blackburn. It could be difficult for them. “We’ve got a massive game next week against Arsenal, we’re playing well, they’re playing well, it should be a fantastic game. But if we can just get over that hurdle then we will have a chance. Our fans were magnificent today, they can sense it and they can carry us over that line. “We are catching them, hopefully the winning line doesn’t come too quickly. I always think the important thing is if your form is good in April you have got a chance, if your form is stuttering you can throw it away. Now, we have that massive game against Arsenal next week, in front of 75,000, it should be great!” Bolton actually took the lead against United with Kevin Davies capitalising on some poor defending by Rio Ferdinand in the 26th minute, before Saha, starting ahead of van Nistelrooy who had been left on the bench, scored an impressive equaliser. United played for the final half hour with a four man front line of Saha, van Nistelrooy, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney and Ferguson believes those attacking options could yet prove decisive in the title race. “Ruud played against West Ham on Wednesday and that was his first game for five weeks. He understood why I left him out today,” said Ferguson. “I hoped I wouldn’t have to bring him on but you know that when you do bring him on he is going to get a goal for you. “We have options up front at the moment with five superb players, we can freshen things up and change things. Bringing on players at the right time could prove to be vital at this stage of the season.” Bolton manager Sam Allardyce, tipped to become England manager by Ferguson before the game, declined to attend the post-match press conference, so intense was his disappointment at the defeat. But his assistant Sammy Lee is in no doubt that United are capable of upsetting the current leaders. “I find it strange that people would write off a class team like United as early as March or April,” said Lee. “Beating us on our turf certainly helps them. Mathematically they can win it, and I’m sure that’s what they’re going for.” – Nampa/AFP