Last updated : 15 August 2004 By Editor

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Fergie first: "If there is one thing I am certain of, it's that I have a terrific bunch of players and a great group of personalities.

"Players like Giggs, Keane, Scholes and the Neville brothers have been here winning things year in year out now for a decade or more. That says everything about them. For them to maintain that hunger and desire is something special.

"At the start of the season I ask myself if there are five or six other players I would rather have as the backbone of my team. Every year I come to the same conclusion - that it would be impossible to replace the players I have."

"We have the players - and so do Arsenal - who have been there and done it in terms of the Premiership. Chelsea haven't got that kind of backbone as far as the English game is concerned.

"Certainly they've bought some top-class players with experience at the highest level, but I feel that in terms of challenging for the Premiership title they are playing catch-up.

"Remember, too, that they have a new coach. This is a man who won the Champions League last year and the UEFA Cup before that - and they are achievements you can't dismiss. He is also used to handling the top players in Portugal during his time at Porto.

"But he will find that it's a different game in England with unique pressures."

"We have others players - like Mikael Silvestre and Ruud van Nistelrooy - who have not been here that many years but have improved every season and are now part of the fabric of the club.

"They have been able to call on the experience of the players who have been here a few years, and the younger players who are now coming in now will be able to do the same.

"In that respect this club has a great foundation for success. That's why it would be silly to write us off. We have got tremendous attitude and application here.

"People should remember what some of our players have achieved over the past 13 years. It is phenomenal. To maintain such high standards over such a period of time is unbelievable, really."

More platitudes from Giggs: "The way Arsenal won the league last season and the money Chelsea have spent will lead to many people saying one of those sides are favourites.

"But we know what we are capable of, and we are capable of winning the league without a shadow of a doubt.

"I think it will be tough at the top. You can't discount Liverpool and Newcastle because they have so much quality but I think if we come above Chelsea and Arsenal then we will be the winners.

"All three teams are full of internationals, it's about whether you can be consistent, go on a run and hold your nerve at the end of the season."