AnUnited summons stamina as title race enters new year

AnUnited summons stamina as title race enters new year

LONDON - Agence France-Presse
AnUnited summons stamina as title race enters new year

Dutch superstar Robin van Persie continues to contribute to Manchester United’s bid for a 20th league title, having scored 14 goals so far this season. REUTERS photo

Premier League leader Manchester United begins the year 2013 at Wigan Athletic today, with manager Alex Ferguson hoping they can muster enough freshness to keep Manchester City at arm’s length.

United overcame West Bromwich Albion 2-0 at Old Trafford on Dec. 29 to take its tally of goals to 50 in 20 games and preserve the seven-point advantage it enjoys over second-place City at the top of the standings.

However, Ferguson is wary of returning to the DW Stadium after seeing his side beaten there in April last season as United’s title push began to come apart.

“It will be a hard game,” said the United manager. “But hopefully we can freshen up again. Possibly Phil Jones will be ready and Rafael will be ready.We rested Javier Hernandez [against West Brom], and also Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, so we have enough freshness to bring in.”

On Dec. 29, City was embroiled in a frantic game at Norwich City in which it prevailed 4-3.

Despite the seven-point gap, manager Roberto Mancini believes it is still too early to be concerned by league positions.

“At this moment, United are better than us, because they are on the top,” said Mancini, whose side hosts Stoke City today.

“But for us, it is not important to look at the table now. We need to work, win and maybe in February, we will look again.”

Fourth-place Tottenham welcomes Reading today, while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will hope for a more straightforward game at Southampton after a madcap 7-3 win over Newcastle match in the weekend.

The new Premier League year begins at the Hawthorns, where West Brom hosts Fulham.