Tuesday, January 3, 2006
Ferguson: 'Chelsea's consistency is beyond us'
After a decade of ill-tempered scrapping at the top of the Premiership, Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson are finally agreed on something - Chelsea are too good for both Arsenal and Manchester United.
Both sides could claim chances to grab victory at Highbury but the major
talking point was a total lack of flashpoints as opposed to the dramas of recent
That and Chelsea's ever-widening lead at the summit of the English game.
United's failure to find a winner means Jose Mourinho's men have emerged from
the packed festive schedule with a massive 13-point lead on their nearest
The gap to fifth-placed Arsenal is an incredible 24 and while no-one is
prepared to hand the trophy over just yet, it appears both camps are resigned to
the inevitable presentation ceremony at Stamford Bridge next spring.
'Chelsea's consistency is beyond us,' said Ferguson. 'Eventually we hope to reach that level. We have a young team who will get better.
'You can see what is going to happen to us over the next two or three years
and in the meantime we just keep going.
'We want to be the nearest team to Chelsea, just in case they have a Devon
Loch moment and collapse. You never know what might happen.'
The statement represents the nearest Ferguson is likely to come to an
admission of defeat without actually making one - and Wenger is in total
'At the moment, with the number of points Chelsea have, Ferguson is right to
say that,' he said. 'Just now, we are not scoring enough goals and we are not ruthless enough.
'But we have potential and we are on the right track. If you look at Chelsea, they have a mature team. All their players are between 25 and 30. They have power and a lot of self-belief.
'We have a young team and it is important for us not to lose big games. I am
not speaking about the title but I feel this result was a positive one for
Arsenal dominated the first-half but it was United who created the game's best
Cristiano Ronaldo blazed an excellent opportunity over a minute before the
interval, while Ryan Giggs, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Gary Neville all might have
converted after the interval.
The nearest either side came to winning was in stoppage time when Emmanuel
Eboue booted Wes Brown's header off the line.
'We had the clearer chances and you would hope to take one of them because
that would have won the game,' said Ferguson. 'We have taken eight points from 12 and to be honest, I wish it was better.
'But one thing that has come out of this period is our confidence has
returned. The team is playing with great spirit and we can only get better.'
For Arsenal, the upward curve may take slightly longer to negotiate and the
need to keep hold of Thierry Henry is paramount to their chances of challenging
for honours in the future.
But Wenger remains bullish and rejects Patrick Vieira's claim the Gunners are
still suffering from his absence.
'I have said many times it took us time to get beyond the grieving process,'
he said. 'But I think we have recovered from that now and it is not a problem.'
Arsenal were reduced to a number of half chances from which they never truly
looked like breaking through United's stout defence.
But Henry did think referee Graham Poll denied the hosts a clear penalty when
he turned away Gunners' protests over Gary Neville's second-half tackle on Cesc
'I don't want to cause an argument or create trouble but I thought it was a
penalty,' said the Arsenal skipper.
'With a bit of luck on our side, the referee would have given us the