Premier League title: Will it be Liverpool United Chelsea Villa or Arsenal?

15 January 2009 09:59
Aston Villa

Dennis MortimerEuropean Cup-winning captain

Why Villa? They are in the top four on merit and so cannot be discounted. There was a period last month when they were the only team at the top really consistently winning games. They have been building towards this since Martin O'Neill came in and there is a consistency and confidence to them. They have the pace of Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor, they are also very good at set-plays and they have shown a certain amount of resolve with their results against Manchester United and Arsenal. Gareth Barry is crucial – he is the brains of the team – but Young has probably been the most consistent in the whole Premier League this season.

What might stop them? I'm not sure if the other Big Four teams have really started playing. There is also the size of the Villa squad. Villa are showing everyone about keeping a settled team but they possibly do need to improve the squad. I'm not sure if the Villa substitutes are ready to command the place of too many of those in the first team.

Prediction The momentum is with Manchester United, their squad is immense and they have the experience of being in this position.

Manchester United

Danny Wallace1990 FA Cup winner

Why Manchester United? I was at St Mary's to watch them play Southampton in the FA Cup and it was just the depth of the superstars in the squad that was so impressive. I don't know whether it is the fitness, but Manchester United always seem to come good at about this stage in the season. Dimitar Berbatov will make a big difference. Some people say that he is lazy and not working hard enough for the team but I don't agree. He was a brilliant player at Tottenham and he was working really well with Wayne Rooney until the latter's injury. That partnership, when Rooney returns, will just keep getting better between now and the end of the season.

What might stop them? Only really terrible luck with injuries. They have got cover for most positions and have such a strong squad. Rooney might be out for a few weeks, but Carlos Tevez can come in.

Prediction Manchester United to win the League. Sir Alex Ferguson really wants to overtake Liverpool's record of 18 championships. If he did that in the next few years, I think he might decide to step down.

Arsenal

Nigel WinterburnThree Premier League titles

Why Arsenal? The big positive for Arsenal is that after some trials and tribulations, the injuries and the criticism, they are still only eight points away from Liverpool at the top. They are still on the fringes and the recent unbeaten run they have put together will build the confidence tremendously. However, with the position they are, they would need to go on another unbeaten run and they would need mostly to be wins. It has not been a great season for any of the Big Four, no one has played unbelievable football and they have all had dips in form.

What might stop them? Consistency is the key. They can't really afford now to slip up against the teams who are lower down the League. It is one thing to be eight or nine points behind just one team, but it is much more difficult when three teams have a gap over you.

Prediction I said at the start of the season that I thought Chelsea would win the League but, looking at the way it is going, Manchester United look like they are the firm favourites. They have been there and done it before.

Chelsea

Kerry DixonScored 193 goals for Chelsea

Why Chelsea? They have a squad full of internationals and, with the form they showed at the beginning of the season, they are still well capable. They haven't played well for six weeks now, but they are in contention and every team have been dropping points. Nothing is won in January and I fully expect them to remain in contention and beat most of the other teams. The return of Michael Essien will make a difference. The FA Cup win against Southend this week will also help. When you hit a slump, all sorts of results can go against you.

What might stop them? I think the game on Feb 1 against Liverpool is crucial. The picture will be much clearer after that match. If they lose and Manchester United keep going like they have been then it will be a hard task to come back. They were chasing last year and couldn't quite do it.

Prediction In some respects they have got it tougher than the rest of the title chasers, but I think it is possible and I believe Chelsea can still win the League.

Liverpool

Rob JonesFA Cup and League Cup winner

Why Liverpool? Rafael Benitez has had a couple of years now to get the players he wants into the team. I have thought in other years that they have been concentrating on the Champions League more than some League games. I think they rested Fernando Torres in one of the early League games last season against Portsmouth and I just thought, 'you need to win these away games'. Now they seem to want to win the Premier League. They were not playing well but winning games earlier in the season and that is something that Manchester United have been doing for years.

What might stop them? Of course there will be pressure, but there is pressure on all the teams. Players like Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher have played in big matches before, and so have most of the squad. I don't think the words that have been exchanged between the managers [Benitez and Ferguson] will make any difference. I was speaking to someone at the club and they said that the players found it quite funny. It is not something that will affect what happens on the pitch.

Prediction I obviously want Liverpool to win. This is the best position they have been in for 15 years. If they can hold it together, they will win it.

Source: Telegraph