Edwin Van der Sar wants to keep title contenders at bay
Edwin van der Sar has called on his Manchester United team-mates to grasp the moment and not allow their rivals back into the Premier League title hunt.
Although United are on FA Cup duty at Southampton tomorrow evening, thoughts of next Tuesday's encounter with Aston Villa will shape Sir Alex Ferguson's team selection at St Mary's.
Victory will consolidate their present position, five points in front of Arsenal, with Manchester City and Chelsea even further adrift.
It is an unexpected advantage, even to those inside Old Trafford.
But it is one that should not be tossed away lightly.
"We didn't get the results we were looking for at the beginning of the season but luckily we got a break with some of the other results," the veteran Dutchman told MUTV.
"Somehow we found ourselves on the top of the league, without having played that well so far.
"But we are there, so we have to and try to stay there as long as possible."
Although he has not stated himself he intends to quit in the summer, that is what Sir Alex Ferguson expects, which just places extra emphasis on the results Van der Sar helps United achieve this season.
Now past his 40th birthday, it is highly unlikely the veteran Dutchman will make the journey to the south coast, meaning that either Tomasz Kuszczak will return or Anders Lindegaard will be handed his debut.
Lindegaard was on the bench at Blackpool on Tuesday but is still to play a competitive game since his arrival from Norwegian outfit Aalesund and is itching for the chance to prove fellow Dane Peter Schmeichel wrong in doubting his ability to follow in his shoes.
Plenty of other changes are anticipated too.
Rafael has been ruled out due to concussion, so John O'Shea can expect a recall, whilst Jonny Evans would also hope to find a place somewhere in the United defence.
Most interest will surround Ferguson's attack though, where 20-goal Dimitar Berbatov will probably be excused the lengthy trip but Wayne Rooney might be retained, knowing his place against Villa could be at risk if he performs as meekly as he did at Blackpool on Tuesday.
Rooney was a mere bystander compared to the second-half cameo of Javier Hernandez at Bloomfield Road and he may be asked to work in tandem with the Mexican at Southampton, knowing only one of them will keep their place against Gerard Houllier's men.
Latest in Sport
Phil Neville and his fellow Match of the Day pundits given warning by the BBC after 'smash them' comment
Manchester United transfer news and rumours: David De Gea could leave for FREE; £38m for Marquinhos; £37m bid for Mats Hummels;
Transfer news LIVE: Manchester United to make £37m Mats Hummels bid; Inter plan Yaya Toure move; Shola Ameobi joins Crystal Palace
Liverpool transfer news and rumours: Mario Balotelli's agent speaks as Brendan Rodgers swoops for German duo
Andy Murray vs Tomas Berdych - LIVE! Australian Open semi-final latest as Murray wins after losing first set
- 3 Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures