Arsenal set for decisive input on title

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The Independent Football

After scoring all four goals for Arsenal in the team's 4-4 draw at Liverpool, Andrei Arshavin could end up being the deciding factor in which team wins the Premier League.

The 27-year-old Arshavin, who became the first visiting player since 1946 to score four goals at Anfield, is unlikely to push his team into first place by the end of the season, but Arsenal still have to play title-contenders Chelsea and Manchester United in their final five games of the season.

On Tuesday, Arshavin's performance kept Liverpool from at least temporarily taking a two-point lead over United, who have two games in hand.

Arsenal are unbeaten in 19 straight Premier League matches, and Arshavin's sparkling entrance to English football has made the Gunners a formidable opponent.

And Arshavin doesn't even think he's playing at his best.

"I do not think I have adapted yet because in the first half I was quiet, except for the one moment when I scored," Arshavin said. "It is difficult, but I will try. I need time."

The Russia international joined Arsenal in January, but that was two months after the Russian season ended, so he needed time to improve his fitness before manager Arsene Wenger gave him his debut.

But the club's record signing hasn't taken long to influence games, scoring five goals and creating another six in his eight Premier League starts.

"I had only scored a hat trick twice in my career," Arshavin said. "I feel good, but also disappointed because we did not get the victory.

"Both teams wanted to win. What can I say? It was unbelievable football, but that is England for you."

And Arshavin said things will only improve once he is fully fit next season.

"I am a new player," he said. "I have to go through my own preseason and then everything will be better."

But first, Arsenal look set to have a decisive say on whether Liverpool, Manchester United or Chelsea wins this year's title.

After denying Liverpool two valuable points in their attempt to win a first English league title since 1990, Arsenal still have to meet Chelsea and Manchester United. Arsenal hosts Chelsea on 10 May before playing their next game at Old Trafford six days later.

The Gunners also have to face United over two legs in the Champions League semi-finals, with their improvement seemingly vindicating Wenger's decision to fill his team with youngsters rather than invest heavily in experienced players.

"We want to continue our unbeaten run in the Premier League and also qualify in the Champions League," Wenger said.