English Premier League: Title in sight as Man United visit West Ham tonight

League leaders closing in on 20th English league crown.


Afp April 16, 2013
United are set to reclaim the Premier League crown they agonisingly lost to City in the dying seconds of the season last year. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON:


Having returned to winning ways at the weekend, Manchester United can close to within four points of the Premier League title with victory at West Ham United tonight.


United’s morale took a blow after last week’s defeat at home to Manchester City, but Sunday’s 2-0 success at Stoke City saw Alex Ferguson’s side re-establish a 15-point lead over their derby rivals.

It left them seven points from an unprecedented 20th English league crown and they could even capture the title as early as Sunday if City slip up against Wigan Athletic and Tottenham Hotspur this week.

Ferguson praised United for their ‘battling performance’ at the Britannia Stadium and captain Nemanja Vidic believes a similarly committed display will be required today.

“Now it’s West Ham and we have to play well again,” said the Serb. “They play in a similar style to Stoke — we’re going to have long balls and set-pieces to deal with.”

Ryan Giggs and Tom Cleverley will hope to return to the United starting XI after being rested at Stoke, while Ferguson must also decide whether or not to restore Rooney to his attacking line.

City, Wigan stage Cup final rehearsal

Meanwhile, Manchester City and Wigan will stage a dress rehearsal for next month’s FA Cup final at Eastlands tonight with both sides looking for points for very different reasons.

Mancini’s side will be looking to strengthen their hold on second spot as they try to hold off Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham.

City midfielder Gareth Barry concedes his club, who won the FA Cup in 2011 before winning the Premier League last year, must now be competing for silverware every season.

“We knew this (the FA Cup) was the realistic chance of a trophy this year,” said Barry. “Where the club is now, you don’t really want seasons going past without winning a trophy. The FA Cup is a massive one. If we can win that, fantastic.

Elsewhere, Rafael Benitez will attempt to rally his Chelsea side in the wake of their FA Cup semi-final defeat to City as they taken on Fulam tonight in a crucial Premier League tie.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2013.

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