Vidic warns United rivals
Manchester United can strengthen their grip on the Premier League title race still further when they travel to top-four rivals Tottenham on Sunday.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side go into the clash two points clear of second-placed Manchester City and with at least one game in hand on all their nearest challengers. The perceived wisdom is that United have only rarely hit the heights of which they are capable, and defender Nemanja Vidic sent a warning to the other title challengers this week when he declared the Red Devils are ready to move up a gear as they bid to wrest back the trophy from Chelsea.
"We definitely have a positive feeling," Vidic told Inside United magazine. "We know that up until the win over Blackburn we hadn't performed as well as we can. But, from my experience, this sort of time is when we usually come into good form. We all want to win the trophy. Last season was very disappointing. We just need to keep pushing hard and playing well. If we do that, we have a good chance of regaining it."
History is definitely not on the side of fourth-placed Spurs, who have lost their last five meetings with United and have not tasted victory over their rivals for a decade.
City have the opportunity to put some pressure on United when they face Wolves on Saturday, and they could field their latest big-money signing Edin Dzeko, who completed his move from Wolfsburg this week. Victory would put City top for 24 hours at least but boss Roberto Mancini knows they cannot afford to take lightly a Wolves side that won the reverse fixture and are fresh from a victory over Chelsea.
"The problem comes when you meet a team that, in your head, you think are easy," said the Italian. "Against Arsenal, United or Chelsea, you don't need to remind yourself to concentrate. You are there a week before."
Third-placed Arsenal will hope to bounce back from their shock Carling Cup defeat at second-tier Ipswich when they travel to troubled West Ham on Saturday. The Hammers won the first leg of their semi-final against Birmingham but they remain bottom of the league and speculation continues about the future of manager Avram Grant.
Blues on the up?
Unlike Arsenal, Chelsea will hope to carry their cup form into the league after thrashing Ipswich 7-0 in the FA Cup last weekend. Blackburn are the visitors to Stamford Bridge on Saturday as Carlo Ancelotti's side bid to end a run of one victory in nine league games.
Derbies are the order of the day on Sunday, with Aston Villa travelling to Birmingham, Sunderland hosting Newcastle and Liverpool meeting Everton at Anfield. Kenny Dalglish's second stint in the the hotseat has got off to something of a rocky start with defeat by great rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup and then Blackpool in the league.
Losing home and away to Ian Holloway's promoted outfit was certainly not what Reds fans would have expected at the start of the season but Dalglish insists there are positive signs. "It's obviously a big challenge," said the Scot. "Very seldom do you get a job where you walk in with no challenges. "The encouraging sign is the attitude and desire of the players, which is quite pleasing. The only reason we will have a problem is if they don't show commitment to the club and I think they have shown that. We just need a result."
In other matches, West Brom will hope to end their six-match losing run when Blackpool visit The Hawthorns, while Stoke host Bolton and Fulham travel to Wigan.