Early Doors

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Early Doors

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Early Doors has learnt that, according to reports, we have a title race on our hands again.

Wins for Chelsea and Liverpool last night have reduced the gap at the top of the Premier League to just four points.

Don't let a minor detail like leaders Manchester United having two games in hand put you off - ED has to make do with what it can to get some excitement out of life.

The tabloids are screaming headlines such as "We're still after you: title fighters turn the heat up on United" and "Kiss Chase! Blues and Reds close up on Utd," so it must be true.

Actually, credit where it's due, one paper this morning has delivered news of Chelsea and Liverpool's respective victories with the headlines rather good "Drog Catcher" and the brilliant "Ngog We Trust". Somewhere, in a damp basement in Wapping, one poor sub-editor has been waiting all season to use that one.  

Last night radio pundit Steve Claridge couldn't help but laugh when his co-commentator at the Chelsea game talked of the title race being back on, but what does he know, eh?

All United have to do is lose four of their remaining 12 games - which they could yet do against Liverpool, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Arsenal - and we're back on course for another grandstand finish.

It's all clutching at straws, of course. Compare the situation to La Liga, where that same four point gap looks a whole lot smaller when you consider that Barcelona's form has dipped dramatically and Real Madrid have played the same amount of games.

Things are even more interesting in Germany, where those same four points separate five teams at the summit of the Bundesliga, the bottom of those clubs being Bayern Munich.

As Jim White so eloquently reminds us, it is 20 years ago since Arsenal's last-gasp Friday night title win at Anfield.

Then, a decade ago, the Gunners were on the wrong side of a final day finish that saw an Andy Cole strike help secure the first part of Manchester United's treble.

Even ex-Chelsea boss Avram Grant managed to keep it vaguely interesting on the final Sunday, and he was rubbish, wasn't he?

This year, however, no matter what the Red Tops are screaming at you, it would take something amazing for United's trip to Newcastle to re-ignite this title race. And when was the last time something amazing happened at St James' Park?  

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "With his comments, the Inter coach has shown a lack of respect not only to Juventus and their 14 million fans, but to the whole of Italian football. Rather than feeding a dangerous culture of suspicion, the clubs representatives have a duty to show educations and a sense of responsibility - before, during and after games - to sustain the development of Italian football and its international image." - An official statement on the Juventus website, demanding an apology from Inter following Jose Mourinho's cheeky assertion that the Turin side have benefitted from several refereeing errors this season. That's Juve, stripped of two serie A titles and relegated to Serie B for match fixing, worrying about "the development of Italian football and its international image".

FOREIGN VIEW: Props go out to Reuters for this gem - River Plate's new signing Cristian Fabbiani, a cult figure nicknamed The Ogre by supporters, has been told to eat less by his coach after officially passing the 100-kilo mark.

The weight problems of the 25-year-old, who owes his nickname to an apparent likeness to the animated film character Shrek, has been one of the talking points of the season with his mother giving television interviews on her son's dietary habits.

Although he initially laughed off the comments, the matter became more serious after River Plate lost 5-1 to San Lorenzo on Sunday.

"I've told him that even if he eats salad, if he eats three bowls of salad, it's the same as eating something else," said coach Nestor Gorosito.

"Because a cow eats grass and it's a cow, it eats all day and it's a cow.

COMING UP: You better have been swotting up because it's time for our Quiz of the Week! And, because we're so nice, we'll then give you the answers!

This evening the rest of the Premier League gets in on the act. We'll be bringing you LIVE commentary of Stoke City v Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic v West Ham United, Manchester City v Aston Villa, Newcastle United v Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur v Middlesbrough, Blackburn Rovers v Everton and Fulham v Hull City. Try and pick a classic out of that bunch.

There's all that plus LIVE scoring of games in the Championship, the SPL and plenty of domestic cup action from around the continent.

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