United, City shift focus back to league

Manchester United and Manchester City will both look to maintain their bids for the Barclays Premier League title when they get back to action on Tuesday.

United's third goal.

United were bundled out of the FA Cup by Liverpool on Saturday, meaning the league, along with the Europa League, remains their only remaining prospects of silverware this season.

And defender Robert Huth admits there may be better times for his Stoke side to visit Old Trafford.

Huth told Press Association Sport: "It's not ideal they lost - they will probably turn up now and be on fire against us. That's what we have to expect.

"Whenever they seem to lose a game, in the next one they perform almost like the old United, so it will be a tough game.

"I think they will come out all guns blazing. It will obviously have been a frustrating result, losing against Liverpool.

"They're out of the FA Cup, out of the Champions League, so it's the league for them now, so I'm sure they'll be up for it."

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson rates Rio Ferdinand, who has been troubled by a back problem, as the most likely of his injured stars to be available tomorrow.

Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones (both ankle) may come into contention, but Nani (foot) will miss out.

Ferguson is relishing the prospect of the unique challenge presented by Stoke.

"You know what Tony Pulis' team will be like, they are the same all the time," said Ferguson.

"They will be 100% committed and they always get stuck in. You have to cope with that.

"To be honest, I always enjoy it too.

"It was like when we used to play Wimbledon. No-one used to look forward to playing against them but my team started to because it was a physical challenge and in terms of taking the ball and playing football.

"Stoke are a different team altogether, but they still have the same qualities of never giving in, so it is always a good challenge for us."

Unlike United, City did not even have an FA Cup tie to play over the weekend, after they were eliminated by the Red Devils in the previous round.

However, the Citizens currently lead United by three points in the league ahead of Tuesday's trip to Everton, but with their abysmal Goodison Park record of one win in 13 trips, this is a fixture which Roberto Mancini cannot take lightly.

However, with 16 games remaining, the Blues manager does concede that the title looks set to be fought out between Manchester's finest to the exclusion of everyone else.

"It is difficult for the others," he said.

"It is impossible that us and Manchester United can lose all the games.

"There are 16 games and anything can happen, including Tottenham coming back into the title race, but at the moment it is City and United."

Third-placed Tottenham are eight points behind City, after they lost 3-2 at Eastlands last weekend, and host bottom club Wigan tomorrow.

Spurs assistant manager Joe Jordan said: "Champions League is our priority but we would like to get it by finishing either third, second, or first."

Fourth-placed Chelsea will be looking to extend the gap over the chasing pack with victory at Swansea, who have lost only one home league game so far.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech feels the Blues are in good shape to get a result at the Liberty Stadium. He said: "We have improved as a team in terms of defending and we are on the right track.

"We don't make mistakes and we look more compact in every line so I think that is the key."

Liverpool will be out to turn their recent cup successes into victory at Wolves.

Red boss Kenny Dalglish, however, expects a stern test from Mick McCarthy's relegation battlers.

"Everyone knows the Premier League is difficult and the quality of the teams there," he said.

"There are no lesser teams for us. The only lesser teams are the ones we have just played; the next ones are the best ones because they are the ones coming up."

Tuesday's Premier League Fixtures

Wolves vs Liverpool

McCarthy: Doyle is going nowhere

Dalglish: No late transfers for Reds

Tottenham vs Wigan

Jordan plays down Spurs' title chances

Martinez: Wigan young guns not for sale

Swansea vs Chelsea

Rodgers: Terry is not a racist

Man United vs Stoke

Sir Alex relishing Stoke challenge

Stoke expecting Man United backlash

Everton vs Man City

Moyes hopes Man City have off night

Mancini still unsure over Tevez

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