Moyes: It's a difficult time to face Newcastle
© AFP

Manchester United manager David Moyes has challenged his players to build another long unbeaten run as they seek to close the gap on Premier League leaders Arsenal.

A damaging 1-0 defeat by Everton at Old Trafford on Wednesday was United's first loss in 13 matches in all competitions, and left the champions 12 points behind Arsene Wenger's team. With all of their fellow title rivals winning in midweek, it means that United's defence of their championship crown is in serious jeopardy, but Moyes was eager to downplay the significance of the setback.

"It was our first defeat in 13 games," he said ahead of the visit of Newcastle United on Sunday. "We hope we can [begin another unbeaten run] in the coming games.

"I saw the response in the game. I don't think we were that bad that I needed them to turn round and show me a big response. We've got a game quickly.

The result could have quite easily been very different. So, unless you're someone who doesn't understand the game very much, I think you will have seen that.
David Moyes on Manchester United's defeat by Everton

"They're good players, they've been here before, and they know what's expected of them and they'll do the right things. We'll do everything we possibly can to close the gap on the leaders."

Moyes said he did not think that the defeat at the hands of his former club would dent morale significantly among either the players or the club's supporters.

"It's football," he said. "It can happen at any club. It happened at my old club and it's happening here. I hoped it wouldn't, but it has.

"Fans who watched the game would get lots of belief from it. There were lots of chances in the game that we didn't take.

"The result could have quite easily been very different. So, unless you're someone who doesn't understand the game very much, I think you will have seen that."

Moyes congratulates Newcastle, discusses injuries
Newcastle will arrive at Old Trafford on the back of a midweek defeat at Swansea City that ended their own unbeaten run. Four consecutive victories in November had sent the northeast club surging up the table and saw manager Alan Pardew and goalkeeper Tim Krul rewarded with the official Premier League Manager of the Month and Player of the Month awards.

"It could be a difficult time to face them," Moyes said. "They had a defeat against Swansea, but they had four straight wins before that, which is a great record to get.

"I know what it's like - to try to win three or four games in a row is a hard thing to do in the Premier League. Congratulations to them, but they come to Old Trafford and we're going to make it as difficult as we can for them."

United will be without Wayne Rooney, who is suspended, while Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa are also doubtful. Van Persie is recovering from a groin strain and Kagawa fell ill after the match against Everton.

Moyes said: "Shinji's had a sickness and was unwell after the game. I'll need to see how he is tomorrow. He wasn't too good after the game.

"It happens at all football clubs - you get injuries, sickness and suspensions - not just at this one. We've got a few injuries, like every other club in the Premier League. They're all making progress. Some have got a chance, some don't."

It means that Moyes's options for a central striker are limited, with only Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez fully fit. The transfer window reopens next month and the Scot suggested he could move to bring in new signings to add to his squad.

"Yes, but the club is always thinking about that," he said when asked if the club were monitoring the market. "Every transfer window, you're thinking about strengthening. If we can do that, we'll try to make that happen."