Evra: I'd rather title than stay unbeaten
Manchester United might be more than halfway to emulating the Arsenal 'Invincibles' of 2003/04 who went through the season unbeaten in the Premier League, but such is the focus inside the Old Trafford dressing room that not one player has given the possibility a single thought.
United demonstrated their resilience once more in a testing goalless draw against Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday to go back to the top of the table. Next up is Birmingham at Old Trafford on Saturday and full-back Patrice Evra revealed the single-minded desire which is driving on United for what would be a record-breaking 19th league title. Evra said: "Everyone keeps talking about the unbeaten record on the outside of the club. But inside, no one has even mentioned that challenge.
"All we are concerned with is winning the league. That is the most important thing. If we are still unbeaten that is a bonus. All the country was against Manchester United (against Tottenham). Everyone wanted us to lose and we didn't. That is a great challenge for us. But it is not the most important thing. The most important thing is to win the league."
United have won 12 and drawn nine of their 21 league matches so far this season. At the same stage in 2003/04, Arsenal had won 14 and drawn seven. The general consensus, however, is that United are still playing nowhere near their true potential.
Against Tottenham Wayne Rooney was below his best after missing two matches with an ankle injury. They lacked a cutting edge, the midfield was short on creativity, but the good news for Sir Alex Ferguson was that the defence was rock-solid.
With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic back in harness at the heart of the back four and goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar returning, there was a steely composure to their work. It was acknowledged by Ferguson who said: "With Ferdinand and Vidic as your centre-backs you know you can cope. They were fantastic."
United full-back Rafael, 20, also coped well with the threat of Gareth Bale until he was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Benoit Assou-Ekotto. The Brazilian's team-mates, however, were quick to point to his youth and acknowledge his quality in taking over from Gary Neville at right-back. Evra said: "Rafael did a great job. He is a strong defender. You need that against a player like Bale."
Van der Sar added: "It was a high-pressure game for him. He played really well. He's only 20 and he's doing a great job. He'll have plenty more years at this club."
United are locked on 45 points at the top of the table with neighbours Manchester City, but United have two games in hand over City and one in hand over Arsenal who are two points adrift. Chelsea are fourth with Tottenham in fifth, one point away from a Champions League place.
Ferguson said: "I'm pleased we managed to come through a game where some difficult things happened. I think there are five teams all contesting (the title), all have chances and it makes it interesting for neutrals."
Assistant Mike Phelan added: "Considering we are not playing so well, as everyone keeps telling us, and lagging behind in the performance stakes we are there and it is up to the rest to catch us up."