Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may have labelled Manchester United "untouchable" but Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt insists the title race is not yet over.
Reigning champions United, still on course to win an unprecedented five major trophies in the one season, could be eight points ahead of second-placed Liverpool by the time Kuyt's team face Manchester City on Sunday, provided they beat Blackburn on Saturday.
"We have players who are just reaching their peak, Steven Gerrard just seems to get better every season and maybe he hasn't even reached his peak yet," Kuyt said. "He scores loads of goals and everyone can see how important he is. It's the same with Fernando Torres and a few others. I think this is the best team I have played with at Liverpool."
Long-serving United manager Sir Alex Ferguson warned: "Things can happen. We were 12 points clear of Arsenal in 1998 but we got a lot of injuries and lost the league." However, he added: "Now we can cope with it, like we have done in the last few weeks. That is the change at this club. We have such a big squad we can make changes."
Bolton Wanderers will look to pull further away from the relegation zone when they face West Ham at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday. Wanderers boss Gary Megson, who has suffered his fair share of taunts from disaffected fans, said Chelsea's recent decision to sack Luiz Felipe Scolari proved just how difficult it was to be in charge of a football club
"After kamikaze pilot I would guess football manager has about the same sort of job security," he said. "It is really strange that these decisions are made and yet the people who make these decisions, after getting it wrong with one manager and then doing it with another one and then another one - surely the common denominator is the person making the decision isn't it?"
Chelsea, under new manager Guus Hiddink, travel to Aston Villa looking to keep pace with the leading trio. Arsenal, for whom a top four finish is now the summit of their ambitions, will expect to see off Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium but Black Cats manager Ricky Sbragia said: "We can't go there looking to defend all game, we have to go there looking to get something."
Middlesbrough may be second bottom but manager Gareth Southgate said he had reason for believing his team, who are at home to Wigan on Saturday, could still preserve their top-flight status. "I'm very confident we can get out of the position we're in," the former England defender said. "In recent weeks I have seen in our performances that we are growing in confidence, and I can see the players are ready to play better football."
Portsmouth caretaker manager Paul Hart oversaw a morale boosting win against Manchester City last week. But they are still just four points above the drop zone while Stoke, their opponents when they travel to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday, are only a point above the bottom three. "We've only won that first game and if we don't win the second, I know it will probably be a different story and different expressions on faces," said a realistic Hart.
Sunday's other matches see Newcastle at home to Everton while bottom-of-the-table West Brom are away to a Fulham side looking to bounce back from their 3-0 midweek defeat by United. Hull are at home to Tottenham on Monday.