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Sad Vialli throws in title towel

SHEFFIELD W 0 CHELSEA 0 DEJECTED Chelsea boss Gianluca Vialli last night threw in the towel on the Premiership title following his side's goalless draw against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.

Vialli believes the championship race has now become a two-horse affair between current title holders Arsenal and Treble-chasing Manchester United.

Vialli's side have now dropped six points from their last three games a trio of draws and now find themselves four points adrift of the league-leading Gunners with four matches left to play.

Whether Vialli is employing a touch of kidology remains to be seen, but he appeared to be serious with his remarks in the after-match press conference.

Vialli said: ``This result makes everything very difficult for us. Arsenal and Manchester United are a little bit better than us in terms of being more clinical.

``We had to win the game and we did our best but that wasn't enough and I would think that's our title chances gone.

``It's difficult to say who will win between Manchester United and Arsenal because they are both great teams with great players.

``When you think United have got to play in the FA Cup final and the Champions' Cup final, then that could be a distraction for them.

``Arsenal, on the other hand, have only got to play for the title, which means they have just one target, although with Manchester it's always impossible to say they're out of it.''

Chelsea defender Frank Leboeuf agreed with Vialli that Chelsea's title chances had all but disappeared.

``If we wanted to win the Championship, we needed to win the last five games,'' Leboeuf said. ``I think we can say it's over.

``But we can still reach second place to qualify (automatically) for Europe.''

Yesterday's tie was a match for the purist as both sides, in particular Wednesday, defended solidly as Chelsea's attacks floundered on the rocks which were Emerson and Des Walker.

Although having taken just five points from the last 27, their future in the Premiership for next season looks almost guaranteed.

Ginola Player of the Year

DAVID GINOLA has been voted Player of the Year by his fellow professionals.

Tottenham's charismatic Frenchman crowned a wonderful season by pipping Manchester United's Champions' Cup hero Dwight Yorke and his World Cup winning countryman Emmanuel Petit for the coveted PFA Player of the Year title.

Another Frenchman, Nicolas Anelka of Arsenal, lifted the Young Player of the Year award ahead of last year's winner Michael Owen and Harry Kewell of Leeds.

But it was a bittersweet night for the Irish as Roy Keane received an amazing snub from his colleagues.

After being short-listed for the Player of the Year title, Keane, who has been undoubtedly the force behind Manchester United's arrival on the brink of an historic treble, was left off the Premiership team of the season.

However, there was good news for veterans Denis Irwin, who claimed the left full spot, and newly-promoted Niall Quinn who has been handed the number 10 shirt in the pick of the First Division side.

Fulham's Steve Finnan and Stoke's Graham Kavanagh have been honoured by their fellow Divison Two professionals.

PFA PLAYER OF THE YEAR David Ginola (Tottenham), Runners-up: Dwight Yorke (Man Utd) Third: Emmanuel Peit (Arsenal) Short-listed: David Beckham, Dennis Bergkamp, Roy Keane.

YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR Nicolas Anelka (Arsenal) Runners-up: Michael Owen Third: Harry Kewell Short-listed: Lee Bowyer, Lee Hendrie, Alan Smith.


PREMIERSHIP 1 Nigel Martyn (Leeds), 2 Gary Neville (Man Utd), 3 Denis Irwin (Man Utd), 4 Patrick Vieira (Arsenal), 5 Sol Campbell (Tottenham), 6 Jaap Stam (Man Utd), 7 David Beckham (Man Utd), 8 Dwight Yorke (Man Utd), 9 Nicolas Anelka (Arsenal), 10 Emmanuel Petit (Arsenal), 11 David Ginola (Tottenham).

DIV 1 1 Richard Wright (Ipswich), 2 Gary Rowett (Birmingham), 3 Michael Gray (Sunderland), 4 Kieron Dyer (Ipswich), 5 Paul Butler (Sunderland), 5 Mark Venus (Ipswich), 6 Darren Moore (Bradford), 7 Per Frandsen (Bolton), 8 Lee Clark (Sunderland), 9 Lee Hughes (WBA), 10 Niall Quinn (Sunderland), 11 Allan Johnston (Sunderland).

DIV 2 1 Maik Taylor (Fulham), 2 Steve Finnan (Fulham), 3 Rufus Brevett (Fulham) 3 Jamie Vincent (Bournemouth) 4 Sean Gregan (Preston) 5 Steve Davis (Burnley) 6. Chris Coleman (Fulham) 7. Graham Kavanagh (Stoke) 8 Darren Wrack (Walsall) 9. Mark Stein (Bournemouth) 10. Geoff Horsfield (Fulham) 11 Steve Robinson (Bournemouth).

DIV 3 1 Jon Hallworth (Cardiff) 2 Mark Delaney (Cardiff) 3 Paul Gibbs (Plymouth) 4 Jason Fowler (Cardiff) 5 Chris Hope (Scunthorpe) 6 Herman Hreidarsson (Brentford) 7 Jeff Minton (Brighton) 8 Jamie Forrester (Scunthorpe) 9 Martin Butler (Cambridge) 10 Paul Evans (Shrewsbury) 11 Simon Davies (Peterborough) 11 Matt Etherington (Peterborough).