PREVIEW: BPL teams look for winning 2013 start

Manchester United finished 2012 on top of the Premier League and will now be looking to extend their advantage in the first game of the new year.

Football News: Man United

Seven points separate Manchester United and fierce title rivals Manchester City

Sir Alex Ferguson's men will want to keep it that way when they take on Wigan on Tuesday night, putting further pressure on their neighbours who face a tricky tie against Stoke City.

With 12 Premier League titles under his belt, Ryan Giggs knows all about what it takes to come out on top at the end of the season and the Welshman was quick to dispel talk of United running away with the championship at this point in the campaign.

"We were this many points ahead with fewer games to go last season and it wasn't enough," said Giggs.

"We are only halfway there and there are a lot of tough games to come.

"There is also the FA Cup and the Champions League, so there are other things to consider.

"We are in a great position and are happy where we are, but we know we have to carry on."


Premier League New Year's Day Team News

A bulk of the goals scored by the Red Devils has come off the boot of Robin van Persie, a player Roberto Mancini would definitely find useful when up against the defensive wall that is Stoke.

The Italian said: "We wanted Van Persie because we knew he could be an important player.

"He is totally different from our other strikers. We wanted him for the Champions League and for the Premier League.

"We were very close. We were sure he was for us but this did not happen and now we can do nothing.

"We were very close three or four months before he joined United."

Meanwhile, Chelsea, coming off the back of four consecutive victories will hope to keep their winning run going when they host strugglers Queens Park Rangers.

If the rumours surrounding Frank Lampard are proven true, it will be the Englishman's final month with the Champions League winners. Nonetheless, he remains totally focused on the team's domestic campaign.

"Of course we can still win the league, it is possible," said the midfielder.

"If we concentrate on ourselves, win our games, put a long run together and we can put pressure on Man United, who knows?"

"It's the position we've put ourselves in because we had a funny run in November and December and we were top and now all of a sudden we are adrift - but we can't look back at that," said Lampard.

"We have to be positive and the big change going into games is attitude with a desire not only to pass and move the ball but to get close and work for your team-mates.

"When we have that we can do what we want we need to carry on that starting with QPR."

Fellow London side Tottenham find themselves in the midst of a similarly good run of form after picking up seven points from the last nine on offer and manager Andres Villas-Boas hopes to bank on that to brush aside upcoming opponents Reading.

"We have to keep our home form going and it would be silly for us not to continue at this level, so it is a fixture in which we really want to get the three points to close finally the festive fixtures with three wins, hopefully, and one draw." Villas-Boas said.

"They [the Tottenham players] have been excellent. The December that we had shows exactly that.

"We had big, big results against difficult teams and the Europa League in between.

"If we manage to take this form into January, it would be excellent."

Arsenal will be poised to pounce on any slip-up by Tottenham when they travel to St Mary's Stadium to play Southampton, while Alan Pardew will urge Newcastle to pick up their first win in three games when they host high-flying Everton.

Having failed to pick up three points from any of their last four games, Fulham take on West Brom with hopes of starting the new year on the right note, whereas Sunderland will go into their fixture against Liverpool in a buoyant mood after defeating City in their previous game.

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup has kept mum about the possibility of unleashing star player Michu against Aston Villa after the Spaniard limped out with an ankle injury in their Boxing Day clash against Reading. 

Elswhere, West Ham and Norwich have it all to play for at Upton Park, with Sam Allardyce's men primed to leapfrog their opponents in the league table should they record a victory.

Tuesday's Premier League Fixtures

West Brom vs Fulham

Clarke keeps Baggies ambition in check

West Ham vs Norwich

Allardyce wants Hammers to fight back

Hughton banking on Norwich character

Wigan vs Man United

Giggs not carried away by huge lead

Swansea vs Aston Villa

Laudrup backs Villa to end slump

Tottenham vs Reading

AVB wants Spurs to keep high standards

Fatigue the least of McDermott's fears

Man City vs Stoke

Southampton vs Arsenal

Walcott relishing Saints clash

Adkins downplays Shaw speculation

Wednesday's Premier League Fixtures

Liverpool vs Sunderland

Allen wants Reds consistency

Chelsea vs QPR

Cahill issues title challenge

Fernandes: It's not over yet for QPR

Newcastle vs Everton

Pardew hits out at Ba advisors

Everton's Gibson ruled out for a month

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