United, City plan to maintain lead


LONDON – Manchester United and Manchester City will look to stay out in front at the top of the Premier League when they continue their push for the title on Tuesday.
Before then at least one, and possibly both, of the Manchester clubs’ title rivals will have dropped points when third-placed Arsenal take on Chelsea in a London derby on Monday. United,
who top the table by two points from City, are away to Birmingham on Tuesday where Sir Alex Ferguson, having seen off a Sunderland side managed by one of his old boys in Steve Bruce 2-0 Sunday, face another in a Blues team under the control of Alex McLeish.
Meanwhile City, who won 3-1 away to Newcastle on Sunday, are at home to Aston Villa. Ferguson said Birmingham will have benefited from the postponement of their Boxing Day visit to Everton.
“Birmingham will be fresh. Going down there is always a difficult place, they’ve always had a strong home record, they’re difficult to beat on their own ground,” United manager Ferguson said.
“We’re well aware of that. Hopefully, we can get them (the United players) fresh, get their recovery sorted, make a couple of changes to freshen that part up and get the result we want.
” City manager Roberto Mancini is planning to ring the changes for the match against a struggling Villa side.
“We have an incredible four games in 10 days and we will make changes against Villa because we must recover in 38 hours and that is not an easy thing to do,” Mancini said. Tottenham will look to back up manager Harry Redknapp’s claims they are title contenders when they face Newcastle at White Hart Lane fresh from a 3-1 win away to Villa where they played most of the match down to 10 men following the sending-off of England striker Jermain Defoe. West Ham, who climbed off the bottom of the table on Boxing Day with a 3-1 win away to Fulham, will look to give their home fans something to cheer against a Blackburn side well beaten by Stoke last time out.