Giggs refuses to get complacent
Ryan Giggs is taking nothing for granted even though Manchester United's grip on the Premier League is beginning to strengthen.
United head to Birmingham tomorrow still unbeaten following yesterday's win over Sunderland and with daylight starting to appear between them and their nearest challengers.
A quirk of the fixture list means Sir Alex Ferguson's men might well have been overhauled by local rivals Manchester City when they kick off at St Andrew's.
Yet City would have played three games more for their single-point advantage, which leaves Ferguson with plenty of breathing space before that particular initiative is surrendered.
However, Giggs is not getting carried away.
The veteran Welshman is acutely aware United have had two away games - at Blackpool and Chelsea - postponed and that, in this of all seasons, shock results can crop up at any time.
"You are obviously wary because of the way the league has been this year," said Giggs.
"Anyone can beat anyone. We are thankful we remain unbeaten and confidence is high. But we realise that nothing can be taken for granted.
"It is a tough league and we need to be at our best in every game."
Yet the self-belief at Old Trafford must be fuelled by the knowledge United traditionally improve at this time of year.
It is rare for United not to kick on during January and there is a possibility that by the time they encounter Chelsea for the first time in March, they could be too far in front for Carlo Ancelotti's men to do anything about it.
"We hope to get better in the second half of the season," said Giggs.
"Our form over the last few weeks has been really good. We looked sharp against Arsenal and Blackburn, and it was the same against Sunderland.
"Some of the play we produced, the one-touch passing and the movement, was great to be involved in."
Giggs is too modest to claim a significant part in it, but his role running at the Sunderland defence, allied to Wayne Rooney's unselfish work up front and Dimitar Berbatov's hot streak in front of goal mean that United look a fairly formidable force.
Yet Giggs is anxious that a defence built around the axis of skipper Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand receives its share of the credit too.
"You need stability at the back and we definitely have that," he said.
"It gives you a platform to go and attack. United have always had exciting, quality players going forward."
If there are negatives they come through the continued absence of Paul Scholes with a groin injury and the loss of Park Ji-sung to an Asian Cup campaign with South Korea, which is likely to mean his absence until February.
"We are disappointed Ji is going away at this time because he has been playing so well," said Giggs.
"Any of the lads would have Ji in the team every time because of his work rate and what he puts into the game.
"But this is what the squad is for. We have players who aren't getting games but will be ready to come in and do a job."
United have still only secured one victory away from Old Trafford too - although they would expect to remedy that statistic over the next few days, even if for Patrice Evra at least, a trip to St Andrew's only brings back memories of the coldest he has ever been on a football pitch during last season's corresponding fixture.
"I have played in Moscow but I have never felt that cold," recalled Evra.
"In the warm-up before the game it was difficult to breathe.
"The pitch was hard and overall, it was a nightmare."
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