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Premier League

Berbatov puts United on guard against teams raising their game

Dimitar Berbatov is baffled by Manchester United's form on the road and wants an improvement as the race for the Premier League title enters a crucial phase.

The Bulgarian striker believes part of the problem stems from the fact so many teams are raising their game against the leaders. United suffered their third away league defeat on Sunday when they lost 3-1 at Liverpool.

Yet at home Sir Alex Ferguson's side have been invincible with 40 points taken out of a possible 42. Berbatov said: "We haven't won as many games as we should have away from home, but that's not because we haven't tried to. We never go into a game looking for a draw or thinking we'd be happy with a point. We aim to win each game.

"The difficulty is that other teams lift their game when they play Manchester United. We're the biggest club, so it's only natural. I understand that. That makes our job harder, but that's not an excuse: we need to be better away from home.

"At Old Trafford, we're doing really well. We're entertaining the fans, we're scoring a lot of goals. The aim is to bring that to our away performances."

Following United's back-to-back away defeats at Chelsea and Liverpool, the race for the title has got considerably tighter.

United are only three points ahead of Arsenal and they have a game in hand while reigning champions Chelsea have designs on a late surge after beating Blackpool 3-1 on Monday.

With Manchester City and Tottenham also pushing for a place in the top four, not to mention Liverpool's revival under Kenny Dalglish, it promises to be a fascinating finish to the campaign.

Berbatov believes the competition is healthy for the English game. He said: "Next year there'll be even more teams up there. Football is changing all the time and, especially in England, the gap between the top clubs and the bottom clubs is closing.

"Everybody's strong, everybody's buying top players. It's great for football.

"There are so many games and the schedule is so tight that often the team with the most experienced players and the team that keeps its players freshest ends up succeeding," he added. "If you do have those things, you'll do well."

Berbatov remains the top flight's leading scorer with 19 goals even though he has failed to find the target in his past six league games.

Asked if he had ever lost confidence during his time at United, he responded: "Of course, many times. Sometimes you don't play well or you don't score and in those times the pressure comes from all around you, as well as from yourself.

"You can find yourself doubting yourself. But that's when you need to keep faith and realise everything is going to be OK. You work hard in training and keep doing the things you're good at."